Up North: Kids Work On Skills and Spills in 'Little Wild Learn To Play' Program

WDIO Sports
Created: October 02, 2019 11:13 PM

Duluth, Minn. - There is quite a hockey history in the Northland and some joke about babies being born with skates on! That doesn't actually happen, but many do remember their first time on skates, holding a hockey stick. On four September Sundays, kids could do just that and go a 'Little Wild.'


Scores and stats weren't kept, but judging by the smiles and stick slaps, there were about 60 winners at the finale of the latest 'Little Wild Learn To Play' program at the Essentia Duluth Heritage Center. Duluth has been selected as a site for the sessions six different times.

"It is really about having fun and getting on the ice and getting the basics down. It is a really inexpensive way to get kids on the ice and fully outfitted in their hockey gear," says site coordinator Christian Koelling.

First time players between the ages of 5-8 gave hockey a go, working on skills and spills. There was also surprise instruction from a dozen Bulldogs. For each session, six men's players and six women's players served as volunteer coaches

"Parents show up and say, wow there are 12 Bulldogs coming out on the ice and they say, 'Wow, this is cool,'" says Koelling.

"This is really their first introduction into hockey, so we get to passing and shooting and trying to stick handle a little bit," says UMD Goalie Ben Patt, one of the volunteers.

"They can give their parents some feedback and it is really good for the kids to get out on the ice and see what hockey is all about," says UMD Defenseman Jalyn Elmes, one of the volunteers.

7-year old Riley Micek of Moose Lake participated in the program. He has been a hockey fan since he was 3 years old.

"You need to learn how to skate and you need to learn how to balance with your stick and stuff," says Micek.

"Now he's confident in skating. Today (Sunday) is has last day today and he's done a lot better," says his dad, Andrew Persson.

"I like to get back up and keep trying," says Micek.

Riley plans to play for a school team. His 5-year old brother Evan also got a taste of hockey.

"He (Evan) doesn't really know how to skate yet, but he's still learning," says Micek.

Elmes was there to lend him and others a helping hand.

"My first time, I remember my back was hurting because I was helping them standup and skate, but the past couple of times I've been here, i haven't had to do that much," says Elmes.

With their biggest fans in the stands, these Little Wild players might be on their way to becoming big Wild players and some are already dreaming of that day.

Micek asked if he has scored a goal yet and he says he has. He was then asked what he does to celebrate after a goal?

"I'm working on that part, so I just go 'woo, score' or something like that," says Micek.

There are also sessions going on in Grand Rapids.

For more on the Little Wild Learn To Play Program, click here.


WDIO Sports

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved


Duluth protesters gather to call for justice for George Floyd

Donna Bergstrom & Art Johnston file for Minnesota legislature seats

Northland journalism community saddened by struggling DNT

Dam breaks in Sawyer County

Some churches resumed mass again on Wednesday

Bayfront event decisions left up to organizers