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October 1, 2010 > Youth learns hockey basics in new program

Youth learns hockey basics in new program

By David J. Nicolas

Kids don't need frozen lakes and icy weather in order to play hockey. Union City now offers a hockey instructional program for kids as young as 2-and-a-half years old. The Hockey School, which offers two outdoor classes each week, meets every Tuesday in the Kennedy Park Amphitheater in Union City.

"It's a chance for kids to get introduced to hockey and be able to play with friends after school where the cost is very low," said CJ Gamble of Bladium Sports and Fitness Club. Gamble manages Union City's Hockey School Program.

Hockey School's two classes in Union City, Sneaker Sharks and Minnows, are introductory, non-competitive courses. In the first class, suggested for 2-and-a-half to 7-year-olds, players learn to pass, to shoot, puck control and proper equipment use. The second class, Minnows, is a more fast-paced class that equips kids from 4 to 8 years old who play using in-line instead of shoes.

Players and parents don't need to bring or purchase any equipment of their own unless their child is participating in the Minnows class where skates are not provided. Coaches of Bladium sports provide all other necessary items for each week's classes.

Gamble wants to reassure worried parents that the intense, hard-hitting nature of professional ice hockey is not part of the Hockey School curriculum. The classes are skills-based and non-competitive, aiming to make a usually expensive sport more available.

For six-year semi-professional roller hockey player and now a coach for almost the same amount of years, Gamble sees this program as a way to get kids back to the basics of youth sports.

"The program is more than hockey. It's about teaching the kids life skills, social skills, and getting them out there to have fun."

There are seven players registered in the classes so far. The original registration fee for the eight-week program was $129. Any child who registers will be charged a prorated price. Curious players and parents can try a class for no cost before registering.

Hockey School meets every Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Kennedy Park Amphitheater. Parents can register or make a free trial reservation by contact CJ Gamble at or calling 510-814-4999.

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