As the father of two boys who play multiple sports, I can attest to the fact that youth sports can be pretty competitive at times…sometimes too competitive. But when there’s an opportunity to bring kids together for an athletic event simply for the love of the game, it makes for a pretty special environment and that will be on display this weekend.
This Sunday November 24th from 1pm to 7pm at the Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow, the Islanders will host their 13th annual Hockey Jamboree. Mite teams from Long Island, New York City, Queens, Brooklyn, and Westchester will gather at the Islanders practice facility for a day of not just playing lots of hockey but also for fun, friendship and sportsmanship.
“It’s really for friendship and supporting all of that great sportsmanship at the beginning level of hockey,” said Jocelyne Cummings, the Islanders’ Director of Amateur Hockey. “This year we’re having a recording breaking 34 teams participating.”
Teams from twenty different rinks will bring more than 300 kids, ages six and seven, to the jamboree including Long Island clubs representing Dix Hills, East Meadow, Freeport, Great Neck, Hauppauge, New Hyde Park, Oyster Bay and Port Washington. It’s a fun day of hockey regardless of what NHL team a child roots for or what mite team they play for.Among the parents who have children in the program are current Islander Andrew Ladd, former Islander Dennis Seidenberg and two-time Stanley Cup champion Rob Scuderi, who was born in Bethpage and lives on Long Island.
It’s a day for everyone who loves hockey.
“I think it just shows that the Islanders are here to support everyone and it doesn’t really matter what logo or jersey,” said Cummings. “We want you to come and get involved in the sport that we love and play all at one time and just really cheering everyone on for loving the game. It’s great sportsmanship, friendship, and what hockey really brings to the table when you’re all together.”
This is not a travel hockey event but is an opportunity for so many kids from around the area a chance to have a fun day playing hockey and making new friends…kind of like a youth hockey convention. The players that are competing are comprised of basically two skill levels and the Islanders will separate those teams into a bracket ensuring that the kids will have fun all day and not get discouraged.
The Islanders also want to make sure that kids are having fun whether they are on the ice or off the ice during the course of the day.
“We don’t want too many rules because we want them to be enjoying themselves and running around just like kids should be,” said Cummings. “Once you get to the higher level of travel it gets pretty competitive and everyone has their strict things that they have to do. It’s pretty cool seeing the little kids high-fiving each other, they’re all saying good job, and just having a blast.”
So many professional sports teams do so many great things in the community and the Islanders are no exception. Maybe they stand out a little bit more because they are a team that plays in a community and embraces the community that supports them. But with their hockey jamboree, the Islanders are also welcoming in youth hockey teams from many different communities.
Sunday is going to be a great day of hockey for so many young players in the area. It’s a chance to have fun playing hockey while also learning a lot about friendship and sportsmanship.