Bauer Hockey and Hockey Canada announced the next phase of their Grow the Game partnership.  Based on their research findings, the two organizations created a successful model for attracting new families to the game.  The next phase is the expansion of the Big Assist pilot programs into four markets in Canada and the addition of a program director at Bauer focused on this global initiative.
“As the leader in the hockey industry, it’s our responsibility to help ensure hockey is offered in ways that fit into families’ busy lives,” said Kevin Davis, president and CEO of Bauer Performance Sports.  “We’ve created a successful model for families who don’t have an option through today’s offerings.  The Big Assist lets kids try the game like they try other sports at a young age – convenient, affordable and fun – and based on our initial feedback, it works.”
With Canada as its starting point, Bauer and Hockey Canada commissioned a research study to better understand why 90 percent of Canadian families and their children choose not to play hockey.
To overcome the perceived barriers found in this study, pilot programs were created to offer hockey in a convenient and affordable way that maximizes fun.  These pilot programs are six weeks, $100 for gear and enrollment, and provide a fun and welcoming environment for kids and their parents new to the game.
The first round of pilot programs was held this past winter in Scarborough, Ontario, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Every on-ice Big Assist session was filled to capacity, and approximately 84 percent of participants went on to sign up with their local association.
“We always wanted our kids to try hockey and enjoy all that it has to offer,” said Faisal Samad, a parent of two children who participated in Halifax’s winter Big Assist.  “I regret not having the chance to play hockey when I moved to Canada in 1993, which is why I’m glad my kids have this opportunity today.  Our kids had so much fun on the ice and the program allowed us to still have time to do other activities as a family.  We’re looking forward to signing up again.”
In a survey conducted after the programs, 100 percent of parents said they would recommend the program to a friend and, as importantly, 100 percent of respondents said their children had fun.  Based on the success of these initial Big Assist programs and the feedback from parents, Bauer and Hockey Canada will be expanding the offering to additional markets.  Beginning in February, Big Assist programs will be held in Scarborough and Halifax, as well as Hamilton, Ontario, and Sydney, Nova Scotia.
“Hockey Canada is extremely pleased with the outcome of the first phase of the Bauer Grow the Game Pilot Project,” said Paul Carson, vice-president of hockey development at Hockey Canada.  “The partnerships between Bauer, Hockey Canada and the local minor hockey associations hosting these learn to play programs have demonstrated the value of working collaboratively to create wonderful and engaging opportunities for young girls and boys to experience hockey in a safe, fun and positive environment.”
To lead this expanding Grow the Game initiative, Bauer Hockey has tapped Mary-Kay Messier, who joined Bauer following the company’s acquisition of Cascade and previously worked on The Messier Project.
“As someone who grew up in a hockey family and is now a mom to children who play, I know just how important this initiative is to the future of our sport,” said Mary-Kay Messier, director of brand initiatives for Bauer Hockey.  “I’m excited to play a part in helping to grow the game of hockey because I have seen just how much it has to offer.  It’s a unique character-building sport that teaches teamwork over individual success, rewards hard work and, most importantly, is fun for the entire family.”
Launched in 2012, Grow the Game is a global initiative to add 1 million new players to the game by 2022.  Included below are the program details for each Big Assist market.
Program: February 6 – March 20 on Thursdays from 6 – 7 p.m.
Location: Parkdale Arena
Hamilton held its welcome event/equipment fitting last weekend.
Welcome Event/Equipment Fitting: February 18 at 6 p.m.
Program: February 23 – March 30 on Sundays from 12 – 1 p.m. & 1 – 2 p.m.
Location: Don Montgomery Community Centre
Welcome Event/Equipment Fitting: February 22 at 11 a.m.
Program: March 2 – April 6 on Sundays from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: BMO Centre
Welcome Event/Equipment Fitting: February 23 at 10 a.m. at Centennial Arena
Program: March 2 – April 6 on Sundays from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Location: Centre 200