USA Hockey Magazine

November 2017

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5 For Fun Iowa Sisters Give Hockey A Try And Never Look Back // By Jim Leitner 30 // NOVEMBER 2017 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM " D u r i n g t h e w i n t e r m o n t h s , you're always looking for activities for your kids to do, because they get a little pent up in the house, and you definitely don't want them to be pent up," Sarah Ussery said with a laugh. "We had just had another baby not too long before that, so the kids were home a little more than usual. That kind of made it even more important to get the kids involved in something." T h e " T r y H o c k e y f o r F r e e Day " has turned into one of USA Hockey's most valuable initiatives in terms of growing the game at the grassroots level. Last winter, nearly 500 host arenas in 47 states introduced more than 13,000 chil- dren to the game by lending them equipment while certified coach- e s c o n t r i b u t e d i n st r u c t i o n a n d encouragement. N o l o n g e r d o p a r e n t s h ave t o worry about spending money on league fees and equipment, only to have their children decide the sport isn't for them. "We really didn't have anything to lose. If the kids tried it and didn't like it, there was no commitment. No big deal," mom said. The Ussery 's four middle chil- dren —Liliana (now 11), Scarletta (9), Rayvena (8) and Azariya (6)— liked the idea of hitting the ice at the Boji Bay Ice Arena in Spirit Lake, Iowa, in the spring of 2016. SARAH USSERY AND HER HUSBAND, DARREL, spent the winter of 2015-16 cooped up in their Estherville, Iowa, home with five young daugh- ters who had plenty of energy to burn. The couple considered themselves hockey fans, so an advertisement for a "Try Hockey for Free Day" at a rink 20 minutes down the road seemed like a perfect outlet for their daughters, who were all under the age of 12. Photos by Heidi Johnson at Old Soul Charm Photography

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