The itch for 'ITSH'

Youth hockey holds four-session clinic for beginners

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At first glance the scene at the Craig Youth Hockey Association's Introduction to Skating and Hockey program isn't pretty. People on the ice of all ages were slipping and sliding and falling all over the place, but when they get up, if one looks real close, there are almost always smiles on the skaters' faces.

"Falling is my favorite part," said Denton Taylor, 7. "Probably because I do it a lot."

Taylor and about 50 others had their second night of the "ITSH" program Wednesday at the Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena.

"We have about 12 more out for the program this year," said CYHA president Mike Boatright. "It is good to see interest increasing."

The ITSH program is designed not only to teach skating and hockey but to reach out to those who may have never played but want to see what it's like.

John Ponikvar was one of the eight adults at the clinic.

"My son has played for a while so I'm here at the rink a lot," he said. "I hadn't really skated in a long time, but I bought a pair of skates two years ago and I thought I would finally do something with them this year."

Becoming mobile on skates has been a positive experience for him so far.

"I'm still struggling to go backward," he said. "It's also a farther distance to fall from when I was younger and skated more."

The owner of Napa Auto Parts has been pleasantly surprised by the workout he has been getting.

"This is good exercise because after the time change it seems like I don't do much," he said. "It is amazing how hot you can get when you're on a cold surface like that."

This year the cost of ITSH was reduced from $25 to $20, which was part of a price cut all around for costs in the CYHA.

"The biggest deterrent for parents to allow their kids to play has been the cost," Boatright said. "Five bucks in the ITSH program isn't a lot but the night league cost was cut in half."

If a new skater enjoys ITSH the next step would be to join the night league. That league is a non-check league that practices twice a week and plays games mostly in Craig. Its cost has been cut in half to $75

this year.

"When I became president last year my first goal was to make things more affordable," Boatright said. "With some help from United Way we were able to do that this year."

Interest is starting to spread beyond Craig. Matt Feldmann, from Dixon, Wyo., made the one-hour trip down for both sessions of ITSH.

"I came down to Craig to see when the public skating was and I saw the sign for the Introduction to Skating," he said. "So far, it has been worth the two-hour round trip."

He expressed interested in the night league when Boatright explained it.

"Will I be more of a hindrance since I'm still learning?" he asked.

"Not at all," Boatright said. "There will be plenty of time for you to learn."

Alfredo "Smokey" Hernandez was also out on the ice in hockey pads for the second time Wednesday night. He was happy with his

quick improvement.

"We got to hit each other a little bit tonight," he said. "I like hockey because you just glide along and don't get tired."

For more information about the night league or the CYHA call Mike Boatright at 824-2046. For more information about availability of the ice rink and its other programs, such as figure skating, call 824-3011.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com.

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