More than 1,500 boys aged four through 20 years have been playing for the past five years in The Greater New York City Ice Hockey League. Watched over by seven fanatics, this league has just received the highest honor it ever hoped to achieve. Seven of its boys have been signed by St. Catharines Junior B Black Hawks of the prestigious Ontario Hockey Association. One boy is with Guelph and one boy is in Canadian Junior A hockey. I can speak authoritatively on this subject since I have been the league's director of publicity and player personnel since its inception. For all the boys in Bruins Country like Doug D. in your story, there are many more throughout the U.S. who, if given the opportunity, can excel in this once only Canadian sport.
In New York youth hockey does not fall apart after a boy reaches 14. Like his Canadian counterpart, who plays 60 to 80 games a season, the New York boy, between bantam age (14) and junior (20), averages 60 games playing NHL rules. Significantly, last February two New York City-based clubs of bantams and juniors handily defeated Kingston, Ontario's best representatives, in a less than gentle exhibition. Let's not rule out the determination of the youthful American athlete. Supervised properly, he can and usually does outperform any and all rivals.
GERALD N. RODELLI
New York City
If I were just beginning to become interested in hockey your article would have frightened me away. Your portrayal of the father of a young ice-hockey player is far from typical. The Town of Oyster Bay Ice Hockey League ( Long Island, N.Y.) began with 200 boys six years ago and has grown to more than 700 youngsters who play on three outdoor artificial ice rinks. Our success is due to the fact that we do not turn away any player regardless of ability. The fathers are fine, dedicated men who put up with cold weather, lengthy travel and ungodly hours just to enable their sons to play the great game of ice hockey. The goal of our league and the other fine leagues here on Long Island is to provide fun for the recreational player as well as to develop the better players. We all strive to become better, but if by chance we are fortunate enough to develop the great American superstar, it will simply be an additiona bonus for our hockey program.
CHARLES J. MILLNER
Having spent nine years on the squirt-pee-wee-bantam-midget-junior-hockey route with countless early, early morning jaunts to frigid rinks. I think I know quite a bit about it. Believe me, Melvin Maddocks tells it like it is. It is a beautifully written piece and he captures the whole bit, wobbly ankles, pratfalls, overly decaled helmets, over-zealous dads and all.
The wonderful relationship of kids-to-kids, parents-to-parents, kids-to-parents and kids-to-dedicated coaches certainly must be one of the most vital aspects of the whole youth-hockey picture.
It was gratifying indeed to see an article on the North American Soccer League gracing the pages of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (Are We Finally Starting to Dig the World's Game? Oct. 4). We just wish that soccer boosters like NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam would recognize the damage they do to their own cause in making exaggerated claims. We refer to the statement that 1,000 teams from each side of the border will participate in the 1972 Washington-British Columbia exchange program. In fact, only some 700 teams from each side will take part. This is still a gigantic undertaking, and upward of 21,000 players will engage in this friendly soccer rivalry. Parents included, we estimate that more than 40,000 soccer adherents will cross the border at Blaine, Wash. during a three-week period in the spring of 1972.
The rate of Washington Junior soccer growth would be speeded up greatly if only we had a full-time paid administrator. Mr. Woosnam and his colleagues might benefit themselves if they helped us to find and support such a person. The 8-year-old player of 1971 will be the soccer fan of 1981, and many of the parents of these junior players are the fans of today.
If our progress is slow, it is also steady, and we are certain that soccer will eventually be a major sport in America.
WILLIAM (TOMMY) GRIEVE
Washington State Junior