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Coachella Valley Firebirds host first youth hockey clinic

The arena for the Coachella Calley Firebirds has yet to be finished, but the team is already growing its roots in the valley with its first-ever youth street hockey clinic. 

This clinic was for all youth, no matter of experience or no experience with hockey. There was formal instruction with a scrimmage time towards the end of the session.

David Moritz brought his hockey-loving kids out to the clinic. He already bought season tickets and considers himself a part of the firebird family.

"My feeling is that they are going to have a sense of trying to grow the game with their buddies and get them to come out," said Mortiz. "To see them out and interacting with other kids- other hockey kids- it's a big deal.”

Shannon Miller is the team’s vice president of branding and community relations. She said she wants more kids in the valley to catch the ‘hockey bug’ she caught growing up in Canada. 

“We're making history we really are and it starts today with this first-ever street hockey clinic here in Coachella," said Miller. "Our goal is to have about 4,000 kids playing street hockey by the end of February in the Coachella Valley, and I'm quite positive we're going to do that."

She’s already teaching local physical education teachers hockey so they can teach their students how to play.

“You watch five, six years from now how much this is going to pay off for kid's teams and kid's leagues in this valley. And be we're going to be known for ice hockey in probably three, four or five years," said Miller. “The importance is community. So we can't just have hockey players. We need community involved. We want the firebird family to be the entire Coachella Valley community. And you bring the kids in the parents will come and we're all going to be one big happy family."

The next youth clinic the team is hosting is on Saturday, Jan. 22 at Bagdouma Park in Coachella from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To register for it, go here.

Aside from bringing joy and togetherness to local children who play hockey, the arena will serve a larger purpose.

Steve Fraser, the AHL team president, said he "heard in conversation the local rink had shut down because of the pandemic, and so it was very important that when we were putting together this arena we actually work to have the community ice center so that we could bring that all back.”

Pictured: Steve Fraser, AHL Team President

Fraser said he's not sure when the first home game will be, but he and his team are "shooting for the end of 2022.”

The CEO of Oak View group, Tim Leiweke, also pledged at Friday's event to help build an ice rink where local youth can train and practice for activities, including hockey and skating. 

Leiweke said, "we're also going to make a commitment to raise a little bit of money for the club.”

He added that some of the proceeds raised from merchandise sales will go toward that endeavor.

The minor league hockey team has launched its website where fans can purchase tickets and merchandise, and find schedule information for future games. 

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Marian Bouchot

Marian Bouchot is the weekend morning anchor and a reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. Learn more about Marian here.


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