After a frantic couple of weeks organizing their newfound venture, the Great Neck-Herricks Knights middle school club hockey team played and won its first match on Saturday, Sept. 28.
Eitan Hakami and a group of local parents cobbled together the team to help their children play the sport they love without subjecting them to the rigorous schedules of travel hockey.
“It’s very different when you’re playing for a school versus a travel team, which has kids from all over the place,” Hakami said. “It’s really about the local recognition. It also gives them more ice time, which makes them better players, and provides and outlet for kids who can’t play travel for whatever reason.”
Since hockey is not supported as a school sport under the Section VIII code of the New York State Public High School Activities Association (NYSPHSAA), the team needed to join a local league, ultimately settling on forming a middle school team in the NY Islander High School Hockey League, which consists of only Nassau County-based teams that divide their recruiting pools by school district.
While searching for recruits for the Knights, the press release sent out annoucing the team’s formation made mention of the life skills the sport can help teach its committed players.
“The life lessons the sport of hockey provides its players are well known,” the press release read. “The sport fosters and promotes, honesty, integrity, good sportsmanship, good fellowship, self-discipline, fairness, self-reliance, teamwork, self-confidence, leadership skills and positive decision making.”
The parents did not receive much aid from Great Neck athletic institutions either. While Hakami said the Park District was generally supportive of their efforts, they were unable to render substantial aid since the team was not part of any district programs. The school district, similarly, expressed support for the team, and initially said it would help find certified coaching candidates, but Hakami felt the schools ultimately dragged their feet.
Currently, the Knights have filled 19 of their 25 available roster spots, and are searching for six additional players entering 5th to 7th grade in Sept. 2019. Players must live and/or study in the Great Neck or Herricks school districts. Hakami also emphasized prospective players should already have solid hockey skills.
“This is not a learn to play hockey program,” Hakami said. “You don’t need to be a superstar to join the team, but you do need to have a basic understanding of hockey and how to skate. It’s not an introductory clinic.”
Anybody looking for more information on the team, or exploring the possibility of joining or trying out, can contact email@example.com.
Correction: Eitan Hakami is not a Park District employee, as was stated in a previous version of this article.