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Growing The Game

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars continue to make strides in growing the sport of hockey at the grassroots level in North Texas. The Stars have teamed up with OneGoal -- a North American nonprofit whose mission is to grow the sport of hockey by building awareness of the positive aspects of the game, and helping to break-down the barriers of entry into the sport. OneGoal’s membership includes the National Hockey League, the National Hockey League Player’s Association, USA Hockey, Hockey Canada and the International Hockey Industry Association, as well as hockey rinks and retailers. The organization’s goal is to increase youth hockey participation by 15 percent over three years, targeting four- to eight-year-old boys and girls across North America.

OneGoal’s efforts are right up the Dallas Stars’ alley, which has been promoting the growth of youth hockey since coming to North Texas in 1993. Did you know that the Stars have a “Kids First” program in which your child (ages 4-to-8) can try hockey for FREE? This program is specifically designed for kids that have never been out on the ice. This free program lasts five weeks and includes on-ice sessions to introduce kids to the excitement of the sport (and teach them how to skate). Each child is given a full set of equipment to use and taught how to put it on and what each piece is used for. Registration for this totally free program is going on now.

The next “Kids First” session begins the weekend of August 25. Click here for more information and to download a registration form

Kids ages 4-to-8 years old that want to continue on to the next step can sign up for the very affordable “Shooting Stars” package, which includes eight weeks of skate school and 16 weeks of skill development in our Hockey 101 cross-ice learn to play program.  Kids get a $250 gift card to purchase equipment as part of the package. “Shooting Stars” is only $99 per month. Click here for more information.

Will your child become the next Mike Modano? Probably not, but he or she could share a special passion for the game of hockey that the Stars’ franchise center discovered at a young age when he was a kid.

Like all of us, Modano was once a young child, with unlimited options in front of him when it came to activities to become involved in. He tried out most of the sports available to him and gravitated to loving the game of hockey. As we know, the rest is history.

Modano, arguably the greatest American hockey player ever, grew up in the Detroit area. He began playing hockey in 1977 at the age of seven.

“My dad was a big influence on me,” Modano said. “He was a big hockey fan growing up in Boston watching Bobby Orr. Dad turned me on to the game when I was young. We’d watch a lot of hockey together and talk about it. Dad would take me out and skate on the frozen lakes and ponds. We’d also make backyard rinks that all of the neighborhood kids could use.”

The key was simply having the opportunity to get out on the ice and skate. Once Modano found the ice, he never left.

Youth hockey picture of Mike Modano
“Before I was playing organized hockey in leagues, I was exposed to the sport on outside rinks,” he said. “The winters of 1976 and 1977 were the times when I started to skate a lot. All of the kids in the neighborhood would play hockey for hours. We’d even get the floodlights out at night because we wanted to keep playing.”

Modano’s parents were supportive of him from the get-go, and encouraged him to keep skating, mainly because he loved it so much. Once Modano caught the bug to play hockey, he started to play in more organized leagues and his game began to develop.

“While my dad was the one who turned me on to the sport and has always been one of my biggest supporters, a man named Bob Brinkworth was my coach and was a big part of my development when I was about 10 or 11 years old,” Modano said. “He worked a little bit with the Red Wings at the time and with the Little Caesar’s AAA hockey club. I spent a lot of time with him and played on his teams. Bob helped me with my skill and helped develop my talents. I also spent some summers with Réal Turcotte at his stick-handling school and their hockey schools for about three or four years. Those experiences were very valuable. Learning puck-handling and skill moves was a big part of my development.”

Kids in the DFW area look up to great hockey players like Mike Modano. He was no different when he was a young boy, as he looked up to his heroes in the NHL.

“I was a big fan of Darryl Sittler with the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as Dale McCourt of the Red Wings,” he said. “Peter McNab in Boston was another one who was fun to watch. Growing up back in those days was much different than now with the Internet and all of the sports stations where you can see so many highlights and interviews. These players all played the game with heart and gave a high effort every night. That’s what I took from it. You wanted to be a player like that and do the things that they did on the ice. But most of all I was influenced by their dedication.”

Dedication is a big part of anyone wishing to succeed. Life lessons are there to be learned from the game of hockey, as Modano found out right away.

“Team work is one of the main things I’ve learned from the game of hockey,” he said. “You learn how to work as a team to achieve goals. It is not an individual sport like tennis or golf and you have to work with your teammates to be successful. You learn not to be so critical of others and encourage more. Team sports are very humbling. You can be the best one day and then the worst the next day. There’s a fluctuation and you learn to take the good with the bad. It’s all about the team and individuals don’t matter. And the goals you achieve mean so much more when you can share that with your teammates. Another thing that I learned through hockey was discipline. You learn from your mistakes and you learn the positives of sticking with a game plan.

“Hockey exposes you to a lot of different people and personalities,” Modano said. “Learning to work well with others is a big part of it but so is having fun. Hockey is a lot of fun to play, and that’s why so many kids enjoy it and get a lot out of it. All of the players in the NHL are spokesmen for the sport and we have a love for the game. Kids that are exposed to playing hockey at a young age can get a lot out of it. The camaraderie, the excitement of the sport and the thrill of playing is a great thing for any child.”

The Stars are very excited about this new partnership with OneGoal. The organization will be a huge asset in helping spread the word about the greatness of hockey.

“OneGoal is another positive voice that tells our story – this is a great game,” Modano said. “Parents have so many things to consider when it comes to getting their kids active in sports or activities. Many of the parents have not played hockey themselves, so they may be reluctant to have their kids try it. But by giving parents the simple facts and showing them how easy it is to give it a try, more families will discover how great hockey can really be.”

There were only 500 kids playing hockey when the Stars arrived in 1993. Now there are close to 6,000. The plan is grow that number even bigger.

“The Stars helped expose the sport of hockey to an area that was very big on football, soccer, basketball and baseball,” Modano said. “The next thing was building the rinks and giving people more options to play the sport. The Stars made some huge strides with the development of the Dr Pepper StarCenters and creating leagues and programs to expose children and families to hockey. The doors of opportunity are now open. We’ve seen an incredible amount of growth in youth leagues as a result and more and more kids are playing every year. It’s exciting to see. We’re growing the sport and we’re doing it at the right level – families and kids. Football, soccer and baseball will always be big youth sports in North Texas, but hockey is making headway. Kids are excited to learn how to skate and get on their own team. Hockey is a great activity for kids and they are making some lifelong friends in the process.” 

OneGoal has chosen the Dallas market as their first test market in North America to roll out their marketing campaign designed to attract young skaters to the sport of hockey. The campaign will run mid-August through early September, targeting the StarCenter Skating School. Television ads began running this week.

“We’re proud to be connected to such a committed organization like OneGoal,” said Keith Andresen, director of hockey programs for the Dallas Stars/Dr Pepper StarCenters. “We want to introduce youth in and around the Dallas area to a game that we are truly passionate about.”

For more information about OneGoal, visit To learn more about the Stars’ hockey programs for young children, please visit or call 214-GO-SKATE.
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