SAN DIEGO DISTRICT HOCKEY LEAGUE
The mission of District Hockey is to grow youth hockey in San Diego County so that kids of all abilities and backgrounds can play in a fun, safe, and stable environment. We strive to build a league that allows kids to play hockey with their friends, to gain access to quality coaching, and to experience the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a thriving local community.
District Hockey uses a community-based, peer-based approach to drawing new players to hockey. We believe that hockey leagues work best when they are inclusive and when they help kids and families develop and maintain lasting friendships. We do not seek to send our players out to elite college or professional leagues but try instead to develop players who will grow up having fun playing hockey with their friends and who will stay in their community and help sustain it when they are older through coaching, officiating, volunteering, playing in adult leagues, and raising future generations of local hockey players. Thus, as we seek to attract new players to the sport, we simultaneously endeavor to build and strengthen the local hockey community.
We also believe that kids are more likely to try hockey as a new sport when they are invited by a friend—when they feel that they do not have to start alone. However, because hockey is a specialized sport, kids playing in elite leagues can only invite their friends to learn to play if there is an affordable, non-threatening, and less intensive option available. District teams, teams formed from kids living in the same neighborhoods or going to the same schools, are intended to provide this welcoming and inclusive alternative, where new and experienced players can play together for fun. To ensure that families can afford to have their children participate, we work with local rinks to keep costs down and offer roller hockey leagues at a lower rate than ice hockey.
To further enhance the appeal of the sport, we think it is important to encourage friendly competition. We outfit our teams with eye-catching uniforms, play music during stoppages and intermissions, announce penalties and goals over the loudspeaker during games, and include playoff rounds for every season. In addition, our coaches, who have grown up playing against each other, teach basic skills and help their teams work together as a cohesive unit.
As we see it, a community grows and is sustained through the efforts of the individuals that comprise it. This is why we are committed to empowering members of every district to make decisions about their own team. Under our system, individuals cannot simply shop around for a team; instead, they are responsible for investing in their own community and working with their neighbors. District members operating as a team have the freedom to choose their home rink, to seek external funding from local businesses, to recruit local players, and to set the tone for the season. In practice, families living in the same community see each other frequently at practices and games, enjoy meeting up with their team families every week, and often choose to spend time together outside of hockey.
As part of our vision of a community-based league, we believe it is important that individuals have a way to stay connected and to contribute to the hockey community once they age out of youth programs. The majority of our coaches, officials, and volunteers grew up playing hockey in San Diego County, and we expect that the kids who are currently playing in our league will eventually assume leadership positions when they are older.