The city of Dover Parks and Recreation Department, for the first time, is partnering with the Centre Ice Rink at the Delaware State Fair to offer a Learn to Play Ice Hockey program.

It might not necessarily be a New Year’s resolution that the city of Dover Parks and Recreation Department is looking to fulfill, but even so, it is becoming more diverse with a new program this winter.

Learn to Play Ice Hockey is being offered through the first time from Wednesday, Jan. 6, to Feb. 17, at the Centre Ice Rink at the Delaware State Fair.

Jeff Grable, the new rink manager in Harrington who stepped into the role last month after working as a consultant, said he’s partnered with cities and townships with other rinks he’s managed, so the pairing with Dover just seemed logical.

The feeling was mutual, said Sherwanda Rachel-Speaks, program coordinator for parks and recreation, as the ice hockey class gave Dover a chance to offer something new to its citizens.

“It’s a program that we’ve never offered before,” Rachel-Speaks said. “I thought it would be a great partnership. It gives the citizens another program to become interested in.”

By teaming up with the city, Grable said he hopes he can draw in a new group of people that have never played or even thought about playing hockey.

From there, he said, he’s sure participants would get hooked and participation in the Centre Ice Rink’s hockey programs would spike.

“When you hook them, you hook them,” he said. “You just have to get them out here. And when they get out here and do it, they’re hooked.”

Grable added that hockey is a sport that drives its participants toward a healthy lifestyle, something every parent should want for their children.

“It’s not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle change,” he said. “My kids play hockey, and the other kids in their classes are scrawny and out of shape from playing video games. With hockey, you keep yourself in shape.”

The timing of the program’s first run, Grable said, could not be more perfect. Dover is in a no-man’s-land for hockey, as the closest professional teams play more than an hour away in the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.

With the Olympics just around the corner, however, and monster stars like Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby on display on the international stage, hockey should see its usual spike in popularity for an Olympic year.

“I did this during the last Olympics at another rink and it worked very well,” Grable said. “Generally you get a boom because the Olympics are there.”

Because of the upcoming Olympics, Grable said the rink also is offering a half-off promotional discount for the class, dropping the price from $100 to $49.95. Equipment rentals also are available.

Rachel-Speaks said the cost, especially since hockey is traditionally an expensive sport, was a big selling point for the city.

“It’s very affordable and in these tough economic times it’s a cost that’s very affordable to families that might not have thought about hockey,” she said. “We’re excited to see where the interest is.”

WHAT Learn to Play Ice Hockey
WHEN 5:10 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 6 to Feb. 17
WHERE The Centre Ice Rink at the Delaware State Fair, Harrington
COST $49.95 per child
INFO Call 736-7050 or visit

Email Brian Citino at