SportsEvents Magazine

JAN 2012

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Advertise Directories Natural Venues Guide Convention Centers Guide SPORTReport Norman Hayward/USA Hockey O HOCKEY riginating from a stick-and- ball game played outdoors centuries ago, hockey has become a sport that has ral- lied passionate fans from countries around the world. From the 1980 Olympic Winter Games' "Miracle on Ice" to the annual battle for the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup, hockey has inspired unforgettable moments in its recent history. Perhaps this is why the sport has continued to experience growth over the past few years despite difficult economic times. "Membership in USA Hockey is grow- ing; we've been very fortunate," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, the sport's governing body in the United States. Although membership has not been affected by the economy, USA Hockey— which is celebrating its 75th anniversary during the 2011-2012 year—is making sure to do all it can to foster membership. "About four years ago, we realized that nobody really owned the responsibility of growing the game," Ogrean said. "So, we created an entirely separate department for membership development whose sole pur- pose every day was to figure out how to bring in new members. The primary focus has been age 8 and under. We've had tremendous results over the course of the last three years from that kind of effort." The membership development depart- A GAME FOR LIFE BY PAIGE TOWNLEY ment's plan, the "Two Plus Two Challenge," was simple, said Ogrean. "Every year, in each age level of play add two new players more than the year before and reduce your attrition of players by two from the year before," he explained. "If every program in America does that, you'll see major growth. And that initiative has been very successful. You have to start at the entry level, and once you have that working, then you work on better retention so that instead of an average of a three- or four-year period, you move that up to five or six years. Then, you're growing your numbers all the way up the chain." USA Hockey is actually experiencing its largest growth 'up the chain.' "For almost 10 years now, the single fastest growing ➤ January 2012 31 ▼

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