HERMITAGE — When it comes to getting kids involved in hockey, local options are limited — but a state grant could help bring a new dek hockey facility to Hermitage.
A variation of ball hockey, dek hockey is played on foot with an orange ball on a surface called a “sports field”, which can help reduce injuries while playing. Although there are no rinks locals for dek hockey, the municipal authorities plan to eventually install one at the Hermitage sports complex.
To help fund the project, the Hermitage Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to seek a $250,000 grant under the Greenways, Trails, and Recreation program at the last meeting of commissioners on May 25. .
The program is administered by the Commonwealth Finance Authority of the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, according to city documents.
If approved, the grant would cover 85% of project costs, with city funds covering the remaining 15%. These local funds would be available in 2023 and would be allocated to the project in the 2023 budget.
Hermitage planning and development director Jeremy Coxe said the project started when resident Brandon Weimerskir approached city officials, along with a few other local organizations, about getting a dek hockey rink. .
Weimerskir said he originally graduated from Sharon High School in 2006 and attended the University of Pittsburgh which gave him the opportunity to experience ice hockey. Although he didn’t have the chance to play the sport as a child, Weimerskir said he quickly became a fan of the sport as a young adult.
Eventually Weimerskir married, and the couple decided to return to the area in recent years after the birth of their second child, settling in Hermitage. However, Weimerskir said there is still a “hole” in the region when it comes to hockey programs.
“I think the closest ice rink if you live in the Sharon, Sharpsville or Hermitage area is about 30 minutes away in Neshannock,” Weimerskir said.
Although the distance can be a challenge for adults, still other factors make it “almost impossible” for children who want to get into the sport.
If a child wanted to play on a team, their parents could instead encourage them to play sports like baseball or soccer, which would be more accessible and more affordable. Otherwise, parents should contact schools in the Neshannock area about possible openings in their hockey teams.
“If you’re 14 and you’ve never played hockey for a day in your life, then your options are almost nil,” Weimerskir said.
If the grant application is successful and the dek hockey rink goes ahead, Weimerskir said the project could provide a new opportunity to introduce children to the sport, while also giving local residents a chance. of several municipalities in the region to create programs in the establishment.
And when not in use for a game or league, the facility’s location at the Hermitage Sports Complex would allow it to be open to the public free of charge.
The court’s surface, a perforated resin material sometimes referred to as a “waffle board”, rests on a concrete pad and allows drainage when it rains. However, the city could also purchase a canvas that would fill the rink with water and subsequently freeze, creating an ad hoc rink in the winter.
But aside from dek hockey, the surface of the court could allow it to be used for other sports like lacrosse or roller hockey, Weimerskir said.
“It’s something that could attract young families to live here in Hermitage, as it would add to the other amenities in town that encourage an active lifestyle,” Weimerskir said.
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