Two 11 year old girls rescue hockey rink from being converted into pickleball courts  

Two 11 year old girls rescue hockey rink from being converted into pickleball courts

Let the old fogies play with their pickles somewhere else!



Two 11 year old girls from Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania have saved their local outdoor hockey rink and are leading a charge within their community to make improvements for others.

Natalie Van Druff and Lilly Walter became best friends while playing dek hockey together at their city's only outdoor rink. For those not familiar with dek hockey, it's essentially street/ball hockey played on an unflooded outdoor rink. I know as a Canadian kid, we played ball hockey in lacrosse boxes all across the city during the spring and summer months. Dek hockey is essentially the same thing and it's awesome because it gives kids who can't skate or who don't have the money needed to play ice hockey a chance to play the game that we all love.

A few months ago Natalie's mother Kate Van Druff discovered that the girls' dek hockey rink was in danger of being replaced by pickleball courts, a project that has been promoted vigorously by New Hanover's growing pickleball community. Kate had reached out to the city to donate some new nets for the hockey rink when she was told by town council that the area would be converted to pickball courts, despite the fact that their are pickleball courts just minutes nearby in another local park. This led the two 11 year old girls to embark on a mission of support where they garnered more than 900 signatures from locals who support their idea to not only keep the hockey rink alive, but to make much needed improvements to it, as well.

Earlier this month Natalie and Lilly were informed that the rink will remain intact and that they have been invited to help identify key areas that need addressing during renovations. 

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In a recent meeting with three council members, Natalie and Lilly presented their suggestions for the renovations. They drew inspiration from the renovated ball hockey rink in Gloucester Township, which had a partnership with the Flyers in 2021. The girls, who had not done much public speaking before, expressed the importance of self-confidence and support from friends when presenting in front of others.

The council members were impressed with their presentation and scheduled them for another meeting with the board of supervisors in March. In the meantime, Natalie and Lilly are searching for sponsors to support the rink.

The girls believe that anyone can be a change maker, even when it seems like a small change is necessary. They understand that their efforts could lead to something bigger, and they are determined to make a difference for their community and future generations.

Now, if that doesn't give you hope for the next generation, nothing will!

Let's go, girls!