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  • People’s Choice: Fargo Youth Hockey Association

  • People’s Choice: Fargo Youth Hockey Association

    People’s Choice: Fargo Youth Hockey Association

    Local non-profit Fargo Youth Hockey Association scored the title of People’s Choice at the ChamberChoice Awards last May.

    About eight years ago, three associations consisting of the Fargo Raiders, Fargo Flyers & Fargo All-City merged under the name Fargo Youth Hockey Association - Fargo Freeze and created one large association that feeds five high school hockey teams.

    Today, the Fargo Youth Hockey Association offers programs for youth and teaches the fundamentals of hockey, sportsmanship, teamwork and self-discipline. Kids learn to compete within a set of established rules, accept the decisions of authorized officials and develop sound minds and bodies. About 1,000 players from Fargo alone participate in youth hockey each year.

    A few of their core values are to create a safe, fun and rewarding hockey experience, and a setting where sportsmanship and good behavior are stressed at all times.

    One letter of recommendation wrote that they are not just a competitive organization developing elite athletes. Rather, they’re in the business of giving every child an opportunity to play. And, knowing that hockey can be expensive, they strive to make it more accessible and affordable. Reduced fees from scholarships and the First Shift program has introduced more than 1,500 kids to the sport since 2010.

    The First Shift program has introduced more than 1,500 kids to the sport since 2010.

    The association does more than just develop area youth, though. Over the past four years, their events have resulted in direct visitor spending of more than $9.1 million from the hundreds of teams and families traveling here to play in tournaments.

    Fargo Youth Hockey Association has seen substantial growth in its membership, tournaments and partnerships. This year they hosted the most teams ever, with 384 teams participating over eight weekends in January and February. And, they celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Squirt International hockey tournament, hosting 224 teams in February.

    The association’s 2018–2019 president DJ Rieger says that with a staff of just five full-time employees, they rely heavily on their membership and board of directors. For their tournament season alone, their membership volunteered over 500 hours, filling 3,101 tournament shifts.

    FYHA staff, coaches and volunteers undergo Safe Sport training, and coaches receive training through USA Hockey to receive their level certifications.

    The Freeze celebrate name change, new entrance and 35th Anniversary of the Squirt International

    Community partnerships are paramount for the youth hockey association. They’re proud to work with the Fargo Park District, Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, the Metro Sports Foundation, local hockey associations, and many local sponsors. “Our partnership with the Metro Sports Foundation helped bring the building of the Farmers Union Insurance Center, hockey arena attached to SCHEELS Arena, to fruition resulting in additional ice in our community to benefit our local high schools and youth,” Rieger said.

    The Fargo Youth Hockey Association also owns the H.A. Thompson & Sons Arena in north Fargo. It is not only home to the Fargo Freeze but is also used for private rentals, hockey camps and adult leagues. The youth hockey camps serve players in the entire Red River Valley with some of these camps being the Fargo Freeze summer hockey camps, North Fargo Hockey Skills, ASE Shooting/Checking Camp and the International Hockey School. H.A. Thompson & Sons Arena is also used by Hope Inc., area figure skaters, and is considered by many to be the best playing surface in the area due to its hard fast ice sheet, and it year-round availability.

    There’s no doubt that Fargo Youth Hockey Association assists in contributing to this community.

    Current hockey program levels:
    • Termites (boys and girls age 4-6)
    • Mites and 8U Girls (age 6-9)
    • Squirts and 10U Girls (age 9-11)
    • PeeWees and 12U Girls (age 12 and under)
    • Bantams and 14U Girls (age 14 and under)
    • Junior Gold and 19U Girls (age 19 and under)

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