Color of Hockey: Coyotes succeeding in outreach to Hispanic youth

William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey weblog since 2012. Douglas joined in 2019 and writes about folks of colour in the game. Today, he profiles Jonah Rodriguez, supervisor for Hispanic Hockey Development for the Arizona Coyotes.

Jonah Rodriguez turned into in hockey when the Los Angeles Kings performed a learn-to-play consultation at his college when he used to be 6 years outdated.

“And I wanted to play hockey after that,” Rodriguez mentioned. “My dad put me and my brothers in hockey, both ice hockey and roller hockey.”

These days, Rodriguez is the only giving classes at colleges, sport facilities, ice rinks and anyplace he can as supervisor for Hispanic Hockey Development for the Arizona Coyotes.

The 26-year-old Los Angeles house local, who joined the Coyotes group in 2020, is on a venture is to lend a hand develop the game inside of Arizona’s Hispanic neighborhood thru on-ice, boulevard and curler hockey methods.

“My job, I took over pretty much all of the street hockey side of it,” he mentioned.

In September, Rodriguez helped release the Coyotes Street Hockey League a 10-week program for youngsters ages 7 to 13 at Burk Elementary School in Gilbert, Arizona. The program provides 45 mins of talents construction adopted through an hour of recreation play.

“We would go to schools, and we would get a lot of kids come up to us and say, ‘I love hockey now, it’s like my new favorite sport, I want to play’ and we had no place to direct them to,” he mentioned. “There’s really no street hockey leagues in Arizona. The only place we could direct them to is our learn-to-play, which is either on-ice or roller. Going from street to skates-on is a big jump and a commitment. So we kind of created a place for them to go.”

The inaugural boulevard hockey league has attracted 28 youngsters who will play on 3 groups thru December, Rodriguez mentioned. A 2nd 10-week consultation will start in early 2023.

“It’s going to help develop these kids’ skills,” Rodriguez mentioned. “It’s going to give them a map, a path to hockey.”

Another marker on that map is “Raise the Pack,” a boulevard hockey curriculum advanced through the Coyotes, in partnership with the NHL and NHL Players’ Association, to be had to native college districts.

The Coyotes’ Hockey Development staff trains bodily training lecturers on hockey drills and can ship 50 sticks, balls, pinnies, two nets and items for collaborating scholars and lecturers, Rodriguez mentioned.

The curriculum designed for youngsters kindergarten thru 8th grade teaches scholars how to play boulevard hockey inside of two weeks, focusing every day on a unique ability. The Hockey Development staff follows up and assists up to wanted.

“It’s like casting our net,” Rodriguez mentioned. “If they like it, we can direct them to our league, if they want to play more organized hockey. From there, if they start developing their skill, get better and want more, we can direct them to our ‘Little Howlers” program, our on-on ice program, or we will direct them to ‘First Stride,’ which is our curler learn-to-play program. Or in the event that they don’t need to transfer up, they may be able to simply stay signing up for the road hockey league. Street hockey remains to be a sort of excellent hockey.”

Rodriguez said he’s especially proud of the Coyotes’ “Los Howlitos,” a Spanish language learn-to-play program that’s among the first in the NHL.

“I don’t need somebody to really feel omitted,” he said. “A child who best speaks Spanish, she or he can nonetheless take part. If you wish to have instruction in Spanish and if I’ve to be there each consultation so there is anyone who speaks Spanish, that is the purpose.”

Coyotes President and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said the work of Rodriguez and Arizona’s hockey development furthers Arizona’s goal of expanding the sport within the Hispanic community.

“We’re extremely proud of the paintings that they’re doing to implement the imaginative and prescient that we have got to in reality welcome and be inclusive of each section of our neighborhood right here in the valley,” Gutierrez said. “Their methods are at the vanguard of doing that.”

Gutierrez also speaks as Rodriguez’s proud uncle, and said he believed Rodriguez’s hockey journey made him a perfect fit for the Coyotes’ outreach efforts.

“I incessantly talk about him and his two brothers, Arian and Jovan, as best possible examples when folks question me, ‘Can you get Latinos to love hockey?'” Gutierrez said. “I say, ‘Well, let me inform you a tale of 3 nephews of mine whose old flame used to be hockey. And why? Because the Kings did an improbable process of achieving out to youth in Los Angeles. And whilst you achieve out to the youth in L.A., similar to you do right here in Arizona, you are going to have Latinos and Latinas.’ 

Gutierrez mentioned Rodriguez and his brothers “are perfect examples when you’re intentional in your outreach, when you’re authentic in terms of doing it constantly and consistently and when you make this a core part of your strategy, your business model.

“When you get started through personalizing and sharing the way you turned into a fan of the game, if in case you have a tender Latino or Latina they usually glance up and spot Jonah Rodriguez as a hockey-loving participant, fan, and now a trainer, it in reality resonates.”

Rodriguez said he’s looking forward to making the Coyotes Hispanic hockey outreach efforts more extensive in the future.

“I’m grateful and blessed that I’m in the location to use the platform that the Coyotes have to achieve the Hispanic neighborhood, Latino neighborhood,” he said. “If I will make a couple of of them hockey avid gamers or hockey enthusiasts, that may be nice. I’m extra in making an have an effect on in their lives. I sort of know the struggles that those youngsters undergo, so now that I’m in a place to give again and lend a hand, that is my hope at the moment.”

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