There is one man responsible for bringing hockey to Philadelphia. Well, not just one man, I suppose, but this singular man is a giant reason hockey came to Philly. This man, Ed Snider, is the father of the Philadelphia Flyers. From campaigning to bring a National Hockey League team to Philadelphia to being a mover and shaker in all of Philadelphia’s major sports franchises, Mr. Snider is an icon and has a giant legend surrounding his name. Mr. Snider knew that there was more to the city than just sports and winning games – he recognized that the community needed help as well. He was involved in many charities and believed deeply in helping young people become great citizens. So, after years of helping others, he created his own charity, called the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. In 2005, while embodying the spirit of brotherly love, Mr. Snider and his foundation would bring the sport of hockey to children who may never have gotten a chance to play.
More than just a game
During its inaugural season, the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation teamed up with the Philadelphia School District to begin its Learn to Play Hockey Program. 450 students participated in the program across 15 schools. As part of their school physical education program the students, aged 7-12, would learn the value of teamwork on and off the ice. The program strived to not only get the kids up and moving physically, but to positively affect them mentally as well. The push for education and knowledge went hand-in-hand with the sport they were learning.
In the years that followed, the program expanded to feature summer programs. Hockey camps would pop up and help players who were new, as well as those who wanted to learn more and better their game. It wasn’t only about the game, however. An After School Excellence program was also introduced to give students who could use somewhere safe and fun to go to after school hours exactly that. While hockey was the vessel of this program, education was the captain. Each after-school session provided the students with a place to get homework help and other supplemental learning. As the number of students, now new hockey players, grew, the Foundation grew.
Players who were advancing in their on-ice skills needed a more competitive approach. Originally, this was met by holding games with other Foundation students, but it quickly shifted into forming teams for leagues in the area. From pee-wee leagues to under 18 (U-18) USA Hockey groups, the students and everyone in the Foundation flourished.
The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation presents a culture valuing honest effort, dedication, education and the importance of giving back to the community. Raising millions of dollars and helping thousands of young people get a leg up, the Snider Hockey Foundation has been building and uniting the city since its inception. In 2016, there were over 3000 enrollments in the Foundation. 1558 students were in the After-School Excellence program, and 86 percent of all enrolled students are achieving A’s and B’s in core classes in their schools. Acknowledging the need for a college degree in today’s age, the Game Ready for Life program prepares students for life after high school. Whether going on to college or another secondary schooling, the program guides and prepares students for their post-secondary education careers. To do this, the Snider Hockey Foundation teamed up with the Give Something Back Foundation, creating the Goals and Assists partnership to grant all eligible Snider Hockey Foundation graduates with an opportunity not only go to college, but to also complete it debt free. Through select schools, full scholarships, including room and board, are available to Foundation students.
Arguably the true legacy of Ed Snider, the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation brings students together in and around the sport of hockey. Mr. Snider knew the power that the sport had. He knew that beyond the rink, hockey could unite anyone who was willing to listen. Boys and girls alike who grow up with focus and teamwork can build character and excellence. From the intercity to the suburbs, the Snider Hockey Foundation touches the lives and hearts of everyone who comes across it. Ed Snider knew the value of community and, while his legacy in the sport of hockey may one day fade away, the work he did with the youth of the Delaware Valley will always be remembered.