Many of us who grew up in the United States played floor hockey in gym class, without ever realizing it was a serious, competitive sport in its own right. Variously called indoor hockey, ball hockey, or floor hockey, amateur and semi-pro leagues are open and accepting players. If you hate skating, but love the dynamic, punishing gameplay hockey has to offer, why not give it a try?
Field hockey’s another option. Played outdoors, with specialized sticks, field hockey is often treated as a women-only sport in the United States, despite offering serious competition at the international level for both men and women. The sport’s gradually opening for co-ed play, thanks to a handful of brave young men, but there’s a case to be made that separate leagues are the next step to seriously grow the sport.
If ice hockey is definitely your game, however, consider taking it to the next level by joining the North American Hockey League’s Junior Program. Keep your health and safety foremost as you train, of course, but the only way to really push into a professional or even semi-pro career is by seeking out greater challenges… and bashing them to the ice.
There’s a lot of genuine concern surrounding athletic training and kid’s competitive sports. Hockey, especially, can be as punishing as it is rewarding. It’s important to keep health and safety foremost in your mind, as a coach or parent, while encouraging the kids to push and challenge themselves. USA Hockey has a smart, scientific review of youth hockey training regimes on their website:
In recent years sports scientists have spoken out emphatically about the harmful effects of premature and over-intense athletic training of young children. Many complain that hockey programs for youngsters are too intense, competitions too many, seasons too long, emphasis on winning too great. Young children are pushed by parents and coaches to choose and specialize in the sport way before they are mature enough to do so.
By keeping the developmental conditions of each age group in mind, it’s entirely possible to design intensive training routines which minimize the risk of injury to young athletes.
Hockey fans in North America are following the Stanley Cup fight from the edge of their seats. The Cup has one of the more interesting histories among iconic trophies, which parallels and reflects the development of professional hockey over the past century.
“I have for some time been thinking that it would be a good thing if there were a challenge cup, which would be held from year to year by the leading hockey club in Canada. There does not appear to be any outward sign of a championship at present, and considering the interest that hockey matches now elicit, I am willing to give a cup which shall be held annually by the winning club.”
So mused Lord Stanley of Preston in 1892, at a sports banquet in Ottawa.
The first cup was a fifty-dollar silver bowl, held by the victor only so long as they could defend it. All serious contenders were welcome for the first eighteen years of its existence, before ice hockey went pro and competition formalized.
The Stanley Cup evolved into it’s current, iconic design in 1948. Prior to that time, the winning team could add their name, year, and team members to a ring on the cup, adding a band each year until the trophy grew to a size and shape it was nicknamed the Stovepipe Cup. Now, when a ring is full and new one needs to be added, the oldest ring is retired and put on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Many customers have emailed and called us at QuickTrophy to see if we could offer a Stanley Cup replica for their Fantasy Hockey League. When we investigated this, we found we could get a full sized, Stanley Cup replica, but it would cost many hundreds of dollars – edging up to the $1,000 mark. When faced with such a steep price tag, our customer’s interest waned. We’ll keep our eyes open for a cheaper alternative, but such a massive piece of hardware will likely always be expensive.