Winter in Pullman starts on Halloween and ends July 4. Ok, this is a little bit of an exaggeration, but winter can seem to last forever, especially after the Most Wonderful Time of the Year comes to an abrupt and depressing end.
Last year, in order to give us something to carry us through, we got the boys started playing ice hockey with Palouse Youth Hockey Association. This has been a really fun activity that our entire family has enjoyed, the boys as players and we parents as spectators. Palouse Youth Hockey Association has six different age categories, with ages ranging from little (say, about 4) to teen. Practices and home games are at the Palouse Ice Rink, located at the Latah County Fairgrounds.
Hockey season starts around November 1 and ends mid-March, which means that the kids really get a chance to develop as players and to form friendships with their teammates. November and December are generally devoted to practicing. This year our boys have one weekday practice and then a practice, game or Jamboree on Saturday (or a weekend-long tournament). The game, jamboree and tournament schedule picks up after the New Year. We have home games, a home jamboree and a home tournament, and there are also many opportunities for games/tournaments/jamborees on the road (Lewiston, Tri-Cities, Coeur d’Alene, McCall and Moses Lake). In the younger age category that we are in, travel is not mandatory. I am not sure if that holds true as the kids get older. The travel can be a bit heavy, but it is a great time. And it gives us something to do to keep our minds off the dark, cold days of winter!
There are some demands put on the families. There is a volunteer hour requirement, though you do have the choice to pay a fee instead of volunteer. Also, the travel can be time consuming. A significant demand is the financial one. There is a registration fee to get started, equipment rental fees, tournament fees, and travel costs, and then if you want to do things like buy skates, jerseys or other equipment, it can get to feel pricey. However, you really do get a lot out of the experience and you get a long season.
The Palouse Ice Rink also has adult hockey, figure skating, curling and broomball. There are learn-to-skate programs offered, and plenty of open skate times.
As I said, our neighboring cities also have ice rinks. (See links below to the ones I have been to. McCall’s is especially nice.)
And if your kids have skates, try skating on a pond. Our boys skate at Sunnyside Park pretty regularly and that is free!
Palouse Youth Hockey
Palouse Ice Rink
LC Ice Arena
Frontier Ice Arena (Coeur d’Alene) (there is a good skate shop near here)
Manchester Ice and Events Centre (McCall)
PS: I could not resist the Vanilla Ice reference. Sorry.