Between indoor ice rinks and outdoor roller rinks, hockey is growing rapidly around the DMV. Since Alex Ovechkin’s debut in 2005, hockey has grown exponentially around the area, and in recent years, as a large result of the Washington Capitals helping to expand love and excitement for the sport in our region. Efforts include constructing rinks, donating to local schools, and giving back in the community. In this piece, NoVa Caps looks at some of the efforts in which the Caps are building the love of hockey in the DMV.
The organization created an initiative known as the Capitals’ Legacy Project, which helps build or renovate rinks in the area and also encourages kids, teens, and adults to embrace hockey by the year 2020. For nearly a year, an outdoor roller hockey rink has been in the works in Fredericksburg, Virginia. NoVa Caps has been updating on the progress since the announcement in May 2018.
The new Fredericksburg rink is almost complete. As of August 16, 2019, the dasher boards and fencing have been installed. A portion of funding and a number of the rink features are provided by the Capitals, in a joint effort with communities to renovate or construct new rinks such as these.
In the District, Fort Dupont Ice Arena has sparked conversation for many months. Their purpose is to inspire and educate youth through hockey, skating, and other on-ice programs. Former Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik helped out with exterior and interior maintenance back in June, but donations are still needed to receive funding for renovations. According the City’s $25 million commitment, Fort Dupont must raise $5 million. Construction of a new, expanded rink will begin once the local arena raises $1.3 million of the $5 million.
The Capitals provided all Montgomery County, Maryland, elementary and middle schools with 30-40 sticks, 10 pucks, and two nets.
Alex Tsironis, who runs The MoCoShow and is a P.E. teacher in Montgomery County said, “the best way to promote a sport or a team locally is for that team to find success, which the Caps have found for quite a bit now.”
The Capitals donated a generous gift of nice quality equipment. The equipment, which has the Capitals’ name and logo branded on it, “helps with motivation” and enthusiasm for kids to try new things.
“It shows they care about the people that support them,” Tsironis added.
The Community and Beyond
Giving back to the community is a significant and considerate action. The Capitals have participated in numerous charities ranging from Hockey Fights Cancer to Homeward Trails Animal Rescue to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Two events the team hosted again this past season were Future Caps Learn to Play and the College Hockey Combine & Fair.
The objective of “Learn to Play” is to create an interest in ice hockey through affordable equipment in first-time involvement. During the 2018-19 season, the program welcomed 1,200 participants to the sport.
The College Hockey Combine & Fair not only helped high school athletes determine a college, but also provided assistance for collegiate hockey. Consultations with coaches, combine testing, and panels were among the activities.
A fun, interactive event is the annual “Capitals Casino Night”, during which fans can play casino games such as poker alongside with Capitals players and bid on signed equipment and souvenirs in a silent auction. Over $400,000 was raised for the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation during last season’s casino night.
On an international scale, captain Alex Ovechkin traveled to China serving as an NHL ambassador to help grow hockey in the most populated country on the planet. He met with local youth players for a clinic and toured around the Beijing area, which included one of the sites for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The NHL and NHL Players Association are working towards a goal of increasing the sport worldwide. Fans had the opportunity to meet The Great Eight during the week-long trip back in August.
Photo: Washington Capitals
Hockey brings everyone together. The Washington Capitals have created moments that will truly last a lifetime for the people of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, whether it be a new rink, equipment for schools, or charity event, this organization is well-known for their hard work and changing of lives around the community.
By Della Young