Applying Lessons from the History Major to a Youth Sports Program

This past fall I had the unique opportunity of initiating my own dek hockey (ball hockey) program at the Dansville Primary School and Community Center. As a Community Advocates Ambassador, I was awarded a $3,500 grant through the Geneseo Center of Integrative Learning to implement a program addressing youth recreation issues throughout Livingston County. Twice a week I taught elementary school students the fundamentals of hockey, using the lessons and skills I learned as a history major.

However, before the program started, I hit a roadblock when trying to attract students to join. When I applied for the ambassadorship, my original plan was to attract 7th and 8th graders in hope to introduce them to sports before they entered high school. Over the summer of 2018 the Dansville High School Athletic Coordinator helped bring awareness to my program, but no students showed interested. It was disappointing at first to see no students interested in the program, and I started to wonder if my ambassadorship program was not going to work. However, as a history major, I used the lessons learned from researching to guarantee the success of my hockey program.

Coaching a budding goal-keeper.

When taking HIST 302 and other upper level courses, I learned the importance of persevering through research. For final research papers spanning over 25 pages, you made a commitment to find information through various databases. Some days I found a lot of information, while other days I would spend long hours on my computer finding none. The roller-coaster process of finding primary sources is apart of being a history major, and I used my experience to never give up on my program. Thankfully, after contacting school faculty and community members in Dansville, I was able to find a group of students that would love to play dek hockey in the Fall.

With the Dansville Primary School and Community Center now hosting my dek hockey program, I was in charge of devising and teaching drills to students. On Wednesday’s I met with 3rd to 5th grade students, and Thursday’s I met with Kindergarten to 2nd grade students. I adopted different strategies for each group, and primarily taught the students basic stickhandling, passing, and shooting techniques. At the end of each session we played a fun mini game that involved teams competing against each other, with students either running around or working together. With my funding, I was able to provide every participant with a helmet, gloves, kneepads, and a hockey stick to guarantee a safe environment. We also had two nets and goalie equipment, which we used during the last week of the program to play a game.

When implementing the Dansville Dek Hockey Club, it required my own vision and interpretation of what a hockey club should be. As a history major, I wrote a lot of papers requiring my own interpretation of a topic, and I used this experience to confidently create a program that I believed would benefit students. Each week I was responsible for designing drills, collecting equipment, and speaking with students. The hockey club may have meant something different for everyone, but it was my hope to create a program that inspired the students to pursue sports in the future. Any sport has the power to introduce life lessons, and I still carry with me lessons of teamwork, leadership, and perseverance from ice hockey.

After the program ended, it was awesome to see the student’s progress as hockey players. Over the weeks, their excitement and dedication created an atmosphere not only fun for them, but also fun for me. As a Geneseo student, you are told about the importance of benefiting the greater community, and my program reminded me of the enjoyment such activities involved. The Dansville Community Center kept all the equipment, and the students will be attending a Geneseo Ice Knights hockey game sometime during the 2019 Spring Semester. I hope this ambassadorship can inspire other Geneseo students and perhaps the program can be continued by a student in the future.

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