New Canaan brothers help kids get into hockey
Families trying to introduce their children to hockey often find an obstacle not so common in many other sports -- the high cost of equipment. When bought new, hockey gear can cost several hundred, or even thousand, dollars.
With that in mind, three New Canaan brothers, who were raised playing the sport, looked at their garage one day and realized they had accumulated too much equipment they no longer needed but which still was in good condition. So in 2012, the three goalkeepers decided to use their leftover gear to help families get started in hockey without the high cost.
"My brothers and I realized that we had this equipment we didn't use and that there's definitely people out there that need the equipment," 16-year-old Rory Tait said. "People want to play hockey, but it's expensive."
Rory and his brothers -- James, 14, and Charlie, 12 -- did some research and found several organizations that help children afford the start-up costs of hockey. The boys not only donated their own supplies, but they set up a table at the Stamford Twin Rinks, 1063 Hope St., and collected hockey equipment over a weekend two years ago so they could send it to organizations all over the Northeast. The response was overwhelming.
"It was amazing," Taylor Tait, their mother, said. "The boxes filled the entire garage, almost up to our shoulder in our first year."
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For the third consecutive year, the family will collect new and used hockey equipment at Stamford Twin Rinks between 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20 and 21.
The brothers each started playing hockey when they were 6 years old. Both James and Charles attend New Canaan Country School while Rory attends Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford. James now plays with the Darien Youth Hockey Association and Charlie plays with the New Canaan Winter Club Hockey.
Although two of them play in rival towns, the brothers and their family are completely united in this effort, Taylor Tait said.
In 2012, she said, the family collected "tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment," including many new sets of supplies.
"It's rewarding to see them do this," Taylor Tait said.
One of the reasons the family supports the effort is because they know how costly the gear can be. "It's definitely an expensive sport," she added.
Some of the organizations receiving the donations are New Rochelle Youth Hockey, Restore Hockey and Hip Hockey Mom. For the first time this year, the family is also partnering with Defending The Blue Line, an organization dedicated to help children of armed service members "stick with hockey programs."
Rory said he hopes his family continues holding the drive every year even after he goes to college. He also said the initiative is a way for them to give something back to the game they love.
"What's great about this is getting kids on the ice," he said. "You know kids will love hockey."
The family will sort, label and bag the donations for delivery to youth hockey organizations in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. Helmets, neck guards, shoulder pads, gloves, pants, shin pads, goalie leg pads, chest protectors, sticks and skates are accepted. Socks and jerseys are not.
For more information visit thestickexchange.com.
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