‘Build the Thunder’ – Bolts’ $6M youth hockey plan

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Apparently you need to hand out a ton of hockey sticks to “Build the Thunder.”

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced their plan to “grow the game of hockey and teach life skills lessons to Tampa Bay’s young people” on Monday. The franchise is investing more than $6 million during a five-year span in conjunction with the NHL and NHLPA.

Some of the numbers being thrown around are pretty impressive, as the Lightning shared in their release:

• Equip the Thunder – distributing 100,000 street hockey sticks and balls to third through fifth graders through an extensive school outreach program
• Train the Thunder – offering 10,000 hours of progressive training opportunities for players and coaches
• Develop the Thunder – increasing the number of youth players (7-13 year olds) registered with USA Hockey in the Tampa Bay area by 1,000
• Guide the Thunder – utilizing Lightning players, coaches and alumni as life skills mentors to identify and work with 100 at-risk youth from diverse backgrounds
• Create the Thunder – establishing 10 junior varsity hockey programs for aspiring high school hockey players

Pretty cool stuff. There are already some efforts involving Lightning players sharing the game with children:

Both Florida NHL franchises are trying to grow their audiences (and general awareness of the sport) in ambitious and interesting ways, as the Panthers took hockey overseas to the Dominican Republic last week.