Have a child who wants to try ice hockey, but reluctant to invest in expensive equipment that may eventually be neglected?

The Lincoln Ice Hockey Association offers free rental gear as part of its Learn to Skate program, thanks to a gift from an anonymous donor that allowed the association to buy equipment.

The $295 fee per skater covers 10 practice sessions at the Ice Box and the John Breslow Ice Center, and registration fees for six months of league competition. The practice sessions begin Sept. 10, but registration is required by Sept. 1 online at www.lincolnhockey.org

“Ice hockey can be expensive, but this is an affordable option for parents who want to give their children an opportunity to try the sport while avoiding some of the financial risk,” said Chris Bockmann, president of the nine-member Lincoln Ice Hockey Association board of directors.

At the end of the 10 practice sessions, if the child and his or her parents decide the sport is a good fit, the first-year skater's league fee for the six-month hockey season (Oct. 1 – March 31) is free. The weekly schedule over the course of the six-month season calls for two practices (at the Ice Box) and a weekly game, usually on a Sunday (at the Ice Box or the John Breslow Ice Center, or on the ice of an out-of-town opponent).

"The first-year skater's regular league fee does not take effect until their second year," said Bockmann.

Bockmann said Lincoln Stars owner Ryan Schiff has been a “huge supporter” of youth hockey and helpful in growing the sport at all levels.

The Lincoln Ice Hockey Association has about 25 teams and 450 players on the books, ranging in age from 4 to 71, including over 200 adults in the program.

Tryouts are held to determine spots to be filled on youth travel teams. The Lincoln Junior Stars junior varsity team won a state championship last season.

Bockmann said her children have “aged out” of youth hockey but she remains involved because of her love of the sport.

“When you see a five-year-old out there on the ice for the first time and they’re waddling like a penguin, you see that gleam in their eyes and you’re hooked!”

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