Roller hockey keeping kids off streets

March 15, 1997


Staff Writer

For the past two months 12-year-old Jeff Moore has spent his Friday nights making friends, playing roller hockey and staying out of trouble.

"If we weren't here we'd probably be at home, probably getting into trouble, fights, arguments," said Moore, one of about 50 local youths who plays roller hockey at the Boys and Girls Club on Pennsylvania Avenue every week.

Hagerstown City Police officer Brett McKoy helped start the roller hockey program as a way to prepare students for ice hockey leagues. The ice rink at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds is expected to open in August.


Now the hockey games have become so popular that McKoy, who is in the midst of formalizing a nonprofit Police Athletic League for local youths, wants to form a year-round roller hockey league.

The hockey games help give local youths in troubled neighborhoods a positive view of police officers, who they otherwise might be more likely to associate only with making arrests in their neighborhood, McKoy said.

Jeff Moore knew McKoy because the community police officer would play football with children in the Noland Village neighborhood McKoy patrolled.

But Moore said he was surprised to see McKoy at the Boys and Girls Club.

"I was shocked that a cop would be here helping us play hockey," Moore said.

Wayne Young, 9, of Frederick Manor, also was pleasantly surprised that police officers were helping kids.

Before Young met McKoy at the roller hockey games, he said he thought cops were mean.

McKoy has seen big changes in several of the kids playing hockey.

They are more respectful and follow instructions better, he said. "We haven't had any fights in here. We just have a great bunch of kids."

McKoy said he wants the league to be about more than sports.

"I want the kids to be disciplined enough to get good grades," he said. The league may establish a guideline that requires the players to maintain a B or C average.

McKoy also said he's interested in providing drug and alcohol awareness programs to the kids.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 77 made the initial $200 investment in the league to provide safety equipment, said Guy McCartney, a volunteer coach.

The kids bring their own roller skates or inline skates. Kids without skates play in their sneakers.

Roller hockey has become such a hit that it's now happening twice a week - with the younger kids playing on Fridays and the older kids playing on Sunday nights, McCartney said.

Hockey organizers are looking for an outdoor area to use this summer.

Anyone interested in joining the league, volunteering to supervise the kids or who wants to make a donation is asked to please call Don Jones at the Boys and Girls Club at 733-5422 or call Brett McKoy at 739-8577, Ext. 253.

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