During early August the NHL visited Martha’s Vineyard to bring the game of hockey to the OB Boogie. This is considered as on the most significant yearly events where black families gather. Some of these children are very familiar with basketball and football but have never held a hockey stick in their hands.
Amidst pouring rain, hundreds of families still showed up inside the tent set at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. The reason for their excitement was meeting the National Hockey League’s first black player, Willie O’Ree. The event also allowed children to try their hand at the sport with stickhandling and shooting stations. The NHL brought the incident to the island to introduce the competition to people who have historically been excluded from the game. This is done in cohesion with a drive to expand the interest in the sports league. According to the vice president of the Industry Growth Fund Initiatives at the NHL, Rob Knesaurek, the NHL wants to show people that the league isn’t only inclusive, but also welcoming to new members and interest.
Knesaurek was a former forward involved in Canadian collegiate hockey as well as playing in the Ontario Hockey League for three seasons. He said that hockey should be considered as an open opportunity for all. The sport needs to be diversified, and all are welcome regardless of your background.
The History of the Boogie
According to one of the Boogie organizers, Lori Hall Armstrong, the NHL helped to introduce these kids to the possibility that there are other sports than just the major leagues with which they are familiar with, which offers both player and fan possibilities. The Boogie started six years ago. The event began when parents of New Jersey and New York connected through sororities and colleges to organize a game filled with activities focusing on children. From there on, it grew into being one of the most significant annual events focusing on the well-being of children.
The Crowd at Martha’s Vineyard
The crowd attending this even at Martha’s Vineyard is characterized as predominantly black people from the East Coast to the West Coast and who are in general not only successful but also affluent. They are a crowd who might find a keen interest in the game of hockey and have probably not been exposed much to it in the past. The event was unique in many ways, and all thoroughly enjoyed the fact that it offered some hands-on experience in the game.
These kind of events are brilliant to attract new interest in the sport. I’ve commented that he could see some real talent within some of these kids. Without opportunities where they can try their hand at it, they will never be able to develop their skills. Hence it is vital to find not only support for the sport but also the talent which is lying dormant until discovered.