Say hello to the next generation of
SinBin.vegas readers, I mean, Golden Knights fans.
The Vegas Golden Knights announced today, April 4, that the team has formed a partnership with the Nevada Storm to create a new youth hockey travel program, the Vegas Junior Golden Knights. The Vegas Junior Golden Knights program will initially feature teams from the mite level through midget and will utilize all three city rinks, including the Golden Knights practice facility, the Las Vegas Ice Center and the SoBe Ice Arena. All existing Nevada Storm teams will be re-branded under the Vegas Junior Golden Knights name. -Press Release
The partnership connects the team with the community more than ever. Now, children in Southern Nevada will have an easier chance to play the game, and wear VGK colors while doing it. Hockey participation will undoubtedly grow in Las Vegas as more kids will want to play like their favorite Knight. We discussed last summer how the Kings and Ducks have done a great job developing their youth and HS leagues. Now Southern California has thousands of kids choosing to skate over other sports. For two decades the Golden State has had constant growth in youth hockey participation.
Hockey participation is up all across the nation and California consistently leads in player growth. It currently ranks #7 in the US for youth or high school programs. Brad Sholl, who was announced as the GM of the Golden Knights new practice facility was very close to Southern California’s youth hockey evolution.
I helped organize the LA Junior Kings. That helped not only create opportunities for my own children to play hockey, and stay home through high school. I got to see so many kids, boys and girls, grow up playing a great game. The thing that was always the proudest moment for me was 10-12 years later, when these kids would come back and they’d be in college and playing hockey, they’d stop by to see you and thank you. It’s just creating a sport and an opportunity for so many kids to do things that make them not only athletes, but good teammates, good peers and good people. -Brad Sholl, Vegas Golden Knights Practice Facility GM
Sholl is the right guy for the big job ahead. Just imagine how many times he heard hockey would never catch on in LA. The new practice facility GM will bring his experience to Las Vegas with the goal to mimic California’s rise. However, two major problems will give Sholl agita. The low number of current participants and the cost of the sport.
It’s actually similar to here. Hockey back then, it was on the rise from the Gretzky era, but it wasn’t…we had an empty rink we were opening with. We went from basically six in-house teams to when I left, 19. It was just growing the game and coming up with ways to get kids and families involved with not only hockey, but skating. That can be figure skating and whatnot. Birthday parties are a great way to get kids to try ice skating for the first time. And you hope they turn into either hockey players or figure skaters. Part of the challenge there was just getting people to come to the building. Here, with this group, I feel like we all have the same common goal, which is great. Which is to grow the game. -Sholl
The Gretzky trade and the addition of the Anaheim Ducks were major factors in Southern California’s growth. Now, Las Vegas is primed to burst with the newly formed Vegas Junior Golden Knights program. With the league intact, local kids will be able to sign up and play just like they can with football, baseball or basketball. Once children start playing hockey, they’ll be fans for life.
Getting kids to play is hurdle number one, but that’s the easy part compared to the obvious elephant in the room when it comes to hockey. It ain’t cheap. ESPN.com calculated the cost at $48,850. That’s equipment, training, travel, team fees, and much more.
If families can’t afford to play the child won’t appreciate the sport. Golf is the perfect example. The average age of a golf fan is 35+, when adults can afford to play on their own.
We had programs in place in Los Angeles. We plan to do similar programs here. The National Hockey League also has an initiative that’s going to help us do learn to play programs and initiation programs, where there’s very little investment from the families to see if their kid even likes it. Where they get the gear, maybe after three or four weeks they’re finding out their kid is really into it, once that session concludes, they can go into a learn to skate program, which is very affordable. Then from there, start in-house leagues, which is also very affordable for kids. – Sholl
Bottom line is the Golden Knights made their biggest investment in Las Vegas. The Creator said from day one he wanted to be involved in the community and now he firmly is. With Sholl at the helm, all ages and levels will have a chance to learn and play. If the Vegas Junior Golden Knights program becomes a success it’ll pack the T-Mobile for the next 20 years. On top of developing the sport. Hopefully, by then Junior Golden Knights alums will be skating for the Vegas Golden Knights… and reading SinBin.vegas on the reg.
— Vince Sapienza (@VinceSapienza) April 4, 2017