Troy Parks and Rec plans to start street hockey league

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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Troy Parks and Recreation continues to add to the sports and activities it offers for the area and the newest addition to the Troy lineup will be NHL STREET, a street hockey league.

At the April 25 Troy City Council Meeting, Troy Parks and Rec Director Dan Smith said that recently Charles Henderson High School freshman Seth Hitchcock approached him with the idea of a starting a street hockey league in Troy.

“When you look at the programs offered by Troy Parks and Recreation – whether it be soccer, flag football, volleyball, tennis or pickelball – all of those sports I just mentioned to you, are available now because someone suggested them,” Smith told the council. “Anyone that comes to us and suggests a sport we look into it and try to make it happen. Seth contacted me and we talked about NHL STREET.”

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Smith said that just weeks after Hitchcock approached him with the idea, the Alabama Recreation and Park Association (ARPA) – which Troy Parks and Recreation is a member of – entered into an agreement with Atlanta, Ga., based RCX Sports, which will bring NHL STREET – among other sports – to local ARPA organizations throughout the state. As a part of the partnership with RCX Sports, the equipment for the program will be provided by RCX Sports along with helping with the setup process.

RCX Sports is a youth sports provider in which Dothan native and former UAB football player Izell Reese serves as CEO.

“As a native of Dothan, Alabama, I’m excited to work with ARPA to give back, not only to my community, but to dozens of communities across my home state,” said Izell Reese, CEO of RCX Sports. “This will allow us to expand the accessibility and inclusivity of our youth sports experiences to thousands of young Alabama athletes and instill skills that can be used on and off the playing field.”

Smith said that that Troy Parks and Recreation strives to provide all children in Troy the ability to play sports that they love.

“Our unofficial motto is everybody is not (able) to play baseball and softball,” Smith said. “Troy has wonderful youth athletic programs, including baseball and softball, but we want to offer a lot of opportunities for all children and all ages and we believe this is something a number of boys and girls will participate in and it will grow.”

At the city council meeting, Smith requested approval from the council – which was approved – to enter into an agreement between the city and First Baptist Church in Troy to allow for NHL STREET games and practices at both the Troy Recreation Center and First Baptist Church.

While Smith said that most games and practices would be able to be held at the Troy Recreation Center gymnasium, there will be times when the gym is unavailable. So, First Baptist Church in Troy stepped in and agreed to allow the hockey league to compete at its gymnasium. In fact, it was Hitchcock himself that approached First Baptist Church, as well as suggesting the NHL STREET league to Smith in the first place.

“Street hockey is a lot like ice hockey but you don’t use rollerblades or ice skates, you just run with your feet,” Hitchcock explained to the council. “You also play with a small plastic ball (instead of a puck) and there’s (less) contact or hitting or anything like that. It’s way less violent than people expect.”

Hitchcock said that he was a hockey fan and felt like it would be a good idea for the kids and teens in the area to have another sports alternative.

“I just really like hockey a lot,” Hitchcock said. “When I was younger, I used to watch hockey a lot but there’s a lot less of it here. We went and watched a game in Nashville, Tenn., and I loved it and I thought it would be a really cool idea to start (the street hockey league) in Troy.”

After the council approved Smith’s request, the council members also applauded Hitchcock for his courage in stepping out and taking initiative with the prospective street hockey league.

“I hear a lot of people of all ages, saying things like ‘You know what we should have’ or ‘we should do this or that,’ so thank you for being the one,” Councilperson Stephanie Baker said. “You had an idea and you found the right person to take it to and thank you for being a leader.”

Councilperson Sharon McSwain-Holland thanked both Hitchcock and First Baptist Church, as well.

“I was thinking about how wonderful it is for First Baptist to step up here,” she said. “They support a lot of things in the community and they open their doors to a lot of organizations, so they have a safe place to congregate. We want you to know that it’s appreciated and Seth, you are an amazing young man because it took guts to take this to the department head. You didn’t start at the bottom, you went straight to the top and that’s how you do things.”