EAST LANSING, Mich. – It’s a truth many athletes know: the only way to advance their sport is for younger generations learn it, love it, and then carry it on.
Michigan State’s roller hockey teams pay the love of their sport forward, by annually participate in Mission’s “Hockey College” for younger players.
Since 2007, Mission has held their Hockey College program, at college roller hockey tournaments around the country. The college players help run clinics for young players.
MSU’s three roller hockey teams participate in the program when they visit the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield for tournaments.
“Best part is seeing how much they like seeing roller hockey players like I wouldn’t consider myself a big athlete but they look up to us. So it makes me feel good helping them out,” Dylan Kamen, a MSU senior forward on the Division 1 team.
In the 1990s, many saw roller hockey and in-line skating as the next big sports.
One of the reasons Nike bought Bauer was the rise of in-line skating. In the mid-1990s one-fifth of Bauer’s sales were from in-line skates. Executives from Nike thought that they could integrate in-line speed skating and roller hockey into the Olympics within a couple of years. However, within five years the popularity was sharply declining.
After Nike sold Bauer, in 2008 Bauer then bought ice hockey and roller hockey company, Mission-Itech Hockey. In 2009 Bauer reconfigured Mission Hockey to solely produce roller hockey gear.
This metamorphosis of companies means Michigan State’s roller hockey teams are able to participate in the local Hockey College program.
Kamen said, depending on the weekend, there can be 40-60 kids participating in the clinic. He also said that most kids have had roller hockey practice prior to the clinic but some “need more help than others.”
Chase Kallen, a sophomore forward on the D1 team, said some of the younger kids can get a little cocky with the older players.
“One kid last year wanted to shoot on our goalie, not the little goalie. This little kid thought he was really good cause he was watching us, picking up all the moves and stuff and he was like yeah I wanna shoot on your goalie,” Kallen said.
The youngster proved his talent though, as he ended up scoring on MSU’s goalie.
While MSU is always looking to improve their own game, they also get the opportunity to improve the game as whole. Mission’s Hockey College helps advance their sport around the country to a younger generation and MSU’s teams are happy to help the cause.