Early last Saturday morning, 10-year-old Sean Sadler was on the ice at Arctic Edge Arena while his mother, Susie, looked on. Sadler went through an 1 1/2-hour hockey practice for the seventh week, as he started the second phase of the Oklahoma City Youth Hockey Association’s Kids First program.
The program provides free instruction and the use of equipment for six weeks for children six and up. Sean Sadler didn’t grow up with hockey. But when his grandmother visited during the Olympics last year, she watched the game. Sean immediately was drawn to the sport. “I liked the checking more than anything,” Sean said. “It’s a really fast game.” Susie Sadler says Sean likely would’ve still been able to give the sport a try without the program, but it could’ve been a more expensive proposition. Kids First lets children get a preview of the sport. At the end of the initial six-week program, participants can pay $300 to receive the equipment and 10 additional weeks of instruction. “That the great thing about this program,” Susie said. “You don’t have to pay out a lot of money just to find out your kid doesn’t really enjoy it.” The program is run by former Blazers coach and Stanley Cup-winner Mike McEwen.