Florida Panthers Summer Cats Program
For the second summer in a row, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County hosted the Florida Panthers Summer Cats Program at all 12 Club locations throughout Broward. Clubs received all the supplies necessary to implement the hockey program in the Clubs including hockey sticks, pucks, goals and protective gear. Members practiced throughout the summer for the culminating event of the program, the Summer Cats Youth Floorball Playoffs held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.
Three rinks, set up in the bowl where the ice usually resides during the Panthers season, were divided amongst three different age brackets: Mite (ages 6-8), Squirt (ages 9-10) and Peewee (ages 11-12). Playing in the same area that the professionals do was not an experience that was lost on those taking part in the day's activities.
"It makes the kids feel like pros. Walking in the arena you could see the smiles on their faces and having a good time," said BGCBC Chief Development Officer, Chris Gentile.
At the end of the day, three teams were crowned Champions of South Florida. Team Florence DeGeorge for the Mites Division, Team Marti Huizenga for the Squirt Divison, and Team Florence DeGeorge for the PeeWee Division.
More than just a championship, what these kids will take away will be the memory of playing in a NHL arena and learning the importance of working together at a young age.
"It is just important to get hockey out there in the community," Florida Panthers Youth Hockey Manager Matthew Janusz said. "It is so important for us to introduce the sport to these kids (through floorball). It is fun and exciting, and the sticks are light so the kids can do a lot more than they can in traditional street hockey."
"Most of these kids didn't grow up watching the game or playing the game so for them to learn, understand and see the game and start playing, you can see the athletic ability come out on the floor," said Gentile. "I think a lot of them will take away this is something they want to do in their future and hopefully they stay in South Florida and we can watch them grow up as the next generation."
BGCBC is grateful to the Florida Panthers Foundation and Florida Panthers President/CEO, Matthew Caldwell, who is a member of our Corporate Board, for the opportunity for our members to participate in the program since its inception in 2016.
*Article includes excerpts from the Sun Sentinel and Florida Panthers Blog. To read the full articles click the links below.