Sabre Hockey was originally founded in 1971 as the Naperville Hockey League, and it’s since grown to have over 800 participants on dozens of different teams.
“We offer hockey for any skill level, we offer it for the novice player, beginner, all the way up to the elite player and everything in between,” said Jim Hope, head coach of the Sabres Hockey Peewee AA team. “Our mission, for the most part, is just to teach this great game of hockey. Develop these kids so they get better, have fun, and love the game for their life.”
But it does more than just teach kids hockey, as coaches have the opportunity to build long-term connections with their players.
“It’s been great watching them grow and develop over the years, like I said I’ve known a lot of them since they were four, running around on their ankles. They skate really well, they shoot really well, they pass well, it’s just fun to see them grow throughout the years,” said Hope
And since there are teams for boys and girls of all ages, the young players grow up together, sometimes skating on the same team from just four years old all the way through high school.
“I’ve made a very good friend, two friends, I started skating with them. They were the first kids I started skating with,” said Connor DeTurris, Left Wing of Sabres Peewee AA. “I’ve been on a team with them almost every single year and they’re great kids to have around and talk to, be teammates with.”
The kids have quite the support crew. Parents, who often travel with the teams to tournaments out of state, become tight-knit members of the Sabre family.
“I love when we all get back together later and are sitting in restaurants, reminiscing, talking about how our children are doing how they’ve grown up together,” said Jodi O’Hara, a Sabres Hockey Mom. “My son making friends on the rink and I get to make my lifelong friends out here as I sit and watch.”
Sabre Hockey plays their home games at the Rocket Ice Arena in Bolingbrook as well as the All Seasons Ice Rink, here in Naperville.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.
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