ABOUT THE LEAGUE
Pottstown PAL Dek Hockey is a variation of ice hockey in which players run on sneakers instead of skate. It is played on blacktop, using a ball instead of a puck. Operating continuously since 1996, Pottstown PAL Dek Hockey currently serves over 300 children, and it is the largest intramural dek hockey program in Eastern Pennsylvania.
PAL Dek Hockey offers both a spring and a fall season. Boys and girls all play together. The spring season online registration occurs in January and February. The spring season starts in March and ends in early June. The fall season online registration occurs in July and August. The fall season starts in September and ends in November.
LEAGUES FOR AGES 6 TO 18
For ages six to eighteen, children are divided into multiple age divisions. The league games and practices are held at West Pottsgrove Elementary School at 25 Grosstown Road in Stowe.
The exact age division breakdown depends on registration numbers. Players are placed on competitively-balanced teams and will not typically have the same coach or teammates from season to season. Anyone eighteen or under and still in high school is eligible to play in the oldest division. All players are eligible to play in an older age division or pay an additional $50 to play in two age divisions (their natural division and the next division up).
Games are typically held on the weekends, often both Saturday and Sunday. Older levels have games in the morning, going in descending age order to the youngest level in the afternoon. Games take an hour. All teams play a slate of at least 10 regular season games, and all qualify for the double-elimination playoff tournament which follows. Seasons end with a parent-kid game and pizza party.
Teams have one practice night a week. Parents can request at registration to have their child not practice a certain night due to conflicts. Siblings in the same division are placed on the same team, but no other requests are guaranteed. Players brand new to the league will be contacted about a low-key evaluation session prior to the season, and shortly after that, all players are notified of their team and schedule.
INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAMS FOR AGES 4 TO 5
For ages four to five, meaning for children in pre-kindergarten or kindergarten, PAL Dek Hockey holds an instructional program rather than competitive leagues. The instructional program sessions are held at New Hanover Township Community Park off Kleman Road and Gail Drive.
Hour-long sessions are held two nights a week, resulting in 15-20 sessions by the end of the program. There is no weekend commitment, and there are no games. The sessions feature drills, groups, and scrimmages under the instruction of multiple on-rink coaches. The focus of this instructional program is to teach basic skills and to get acclimated to the sport.
More experienced five-year-olds, or those turning six, have the option of playing up in the regular league at the parent’s determination. They may also play in both the instructional program and the league. All new players in the instructional program receive a free one-piece stick.
COSTS AND EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS
The league for 6-18 years old costs $75. The instructional program for 4-5 years old costs $55. The cost covers the expenses of administration, officiating, equipment and rink supplies, rent and facility upkeep, among other necessities.
The required equipment to participate includes: (1) a helmet with cage, (2) gloves, (3) elbow pads, and (4) leg pads that cover the knee and shin. PAL Dek Hockey has a supply of equipment to rent out if parents select this option on the registration form. Rented equipment is returned to the league at the end of the season. Players selecting the renting equipment option will be contacted for pickup shortly before practices begin. All players must possess their own stick, either a one-piece composite or a two-piece with a wood shaft and plastic blade.
PAL has a partnership with Schuylkill Valley Sports at Coventry Mall, and parents can usually mention PAL to receive a discount during an advertised period close to the season. The Mylec Hockey gear sold by Schuylkill Valley is the most inexpensive and specifically made for street hockey, not ice hockey, use.
Players receive a PAL Dek Hockey team-shirt to use for the season and keep afterward.
Financial aid and payment plans are available for PAL programs. Parents must fill out an application form at the office. Aid is offered if available at the time of inquiry and if the participant’s family qualifies.
At registration, players have the option of selecting to try the position of goaltender on a full-time or part-time basis. The league has equipment and jerseys available for this purpose which stay at the rink.
Also at registration, parents have the option of selecting to volunteer, either for coaching or for the league. Coaching assignments are not guaranteed but decided by the program director. Adult volunteers will have to successfully complete the free background check at https://peportal.secure.force.com/eap?packageid=23464
NOT SURE ABOUT HOCKEY?
Dek hockey is a fun and growing sport, especially as it requires little previous athletic experience or knowledge. Many kids end up preferring the speed and teamwork of hockey to other activities, if only they get a chance to be exposed to it. League games take 30 timed minutes, and players change on and off the rink after every two minutes or so. All players are guaranteed equitable playing time. And while all sports carry the risk of injury, dek hockey is a closely regulated sport. Two trained referees are on hand to call penalties to keep games safe. Checking is not allowed in dek hockey.
Pottstown PAL Dek Hockey prides itself on being a stable league that has provided a safe, intramural venue for the great game of hockey for over 30 seasons. Unlike ice hockey, PAL is not expensive and does not require a great deal of past experience, and the game can be learned at any age. Unlike travel programs, PAL tries to be a low-key time commitment, in that many children play and are still involved in other activities. And unlike for-profit leagues, PAL tries to teach its players “respect for self & others, discipline, leadership, teamwork, good sportsmanship, and giving back to the community.” The retention rate of players coming back each year has always been high, although the league is always looking for ways to grow and improve.
For more information and questions, feel free to reach out to the following:
… registration website and financial assistance questions - PAL executive director - Seth Lawrence - [email protected] - 610-327-0527 … overall program questions and concerns - dek hockey director - Darren Becker - [email protected] - 484-300-5141 … requests, logistics, and equipment questions - dek hockey assistant - Ian Lawrence - [email protected] - 484-942-9493 … instructional program for 4 and 5 year olds - instructional facilitator - Steve Rowe - [email protected]
Note - Spring 2019 registrants will be notified with teams and schedules during the first week of March.