The Recorder – Youth hockey: FCHA, Gagne Wealth partner again for free introductory programs

Franklin County Hockey Association (FCHA) is offering an opportunity to learn how to skate and get on the ice for free.

Through a community partnership with Gagne Wealth Management, the FCHA introductory programs will be offered for free once again this winter to Franklin County residents.

“Gagne generously offered to partner with us again this year,” FCHA president Corey Lovett said. “It gives people a chance to learn how to skate. Even if hockey doesn’t end up being for them, it’s a good tool to have. As a parent I want my kids to be able to try whatever they want,” he continued. “If they don’t like it, at least they got to try it themselves. It’s great that kids will get to try this at no cost; it’s just the time and gas to get to the rink.

“Steve Colby [of Gagne Wealth Management] grew up playing for FCHA,” Lovett continued. “It’s incredible what he and Gagne are doing for the community and I hope people take advantage of this opportunity.”

Colby said he saw the benefits of FCHA growing up, and hopes that with his group’s donation, children in Franklin County will have the same opportunity to learn the game of hockey as he did.

“It’s a huge benefit to the community to have parents know they don’t have to come up with the cost of Intro to Hockey or the Learn to Skate program,” Colby said. “Growing up and playing through FCHA, some of my best friends are kids I met when I was six or seven years old. It’s such a beneficial program. I hope the kids stick with it. Corey is building it out, hopefully it can get back to where it was 10 or 15 years ago.

“With the kids being cooped up for two years, it’s good to get kids back involved in youth sports as much as possible,” Colby continued. “I’m grateful we’re able to do this. Hopefully the program can continue to grow. So far people have been signing up and taking advantage of this.”

Introduction to Hockey is aimed at children ages 12 and younger, and begins Saturday, Dec. 3. The program runs every Saturday from 10:10-11 am and every Sunday from 1-1:50 pm through March 4. Sessions will focus on skating, puck skills, small area games and cross ice games. FCHA offers an equipment loan program, where athletes can borrow hockey equipment for free for the season for a refundable $150 deposit.

FCHA’s Learn to Skate program begins Saturday, Dec. 3, and will run on Saturday’s from 11-11:50 am The program is aimed at children ages 12 and under, with all participants being required to wear a helmet. FCHA will provide skates and helmets on a first-come, first-serve basis. Participants using equipment will be required to provide a $150 refundable deposit.

Instruction in the program is focused on balance, standing on the ice, skating, stopping and turning.

“We had about 30 kids in our learn to play program last year,” Lovett said. “We were able to break the kids up into teams and get them playing games by the end of the year which we haven’t been able to do in a while. That was really encouraging. We try to make it affordable to get people in there and playing. It’s great for the community. I hope it brings hockey back to the area the way it used to be.”

With the program being offered at no cost, and with a way to obtain equipment, Lovett said he’s hoping the FCHA program continues to grow to where it can have multiple teams competing at each level.

“The stigma out there is hockey is expensive,” Lovett said. “It costs money but you’re also playing from the middle of September to the middle of March on travel teams. You get a lot of skates in. This sport taught me so much throughout my childhood about dedication and being part of a team. The life lessons you learn playing hockey are priceless. You’ll remember the memories you made playing hockey for the rest of your life. I’m hoping as many people as possible get involved with this and get to experience everything hockey has to offer.”

Interested players can register online (fcha.org).

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