Checking out Taos ice hockey

Matthew Narvaiz
Posted 11/14/19

On Saturday (Nov. 9), boys and girls of all ages got onto the ice for the Try Hockey for Free event hosted by Taos Youth Hockey.

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Checking out Taos ice hockey


On Saturday (Nov. 9), boys and girls of all ages got onto the ice for the Try Hockey for Free event hosted by Taos Youth Hockey.

Hockey gear was offered for free use to those who didn't have any and food was there for the picking, too, at the Taos Youth and Family Center, on Paseo del Cañón East.

The idea is, according to Charles Stafford, president of Taos Youth Hockey, to get kids interested in hockey so that maybe in the future they can get involved competitively for the high school team.

Charlie Raskovics, a coach for Taos Hockey, said that it's important to start children in hockey at a young age to find out if they like it, but also to help them grow their skills from a young age.

And there were young kids in attendance for the event -- plenty of them, actually.

Carolmarie Hinton brought her son, Grayson Hinton, 5, to the event on Saturday. She said it was his first time ever on ice, and also his first time trying anything related to hockey.

Grayson Hinton was excited, she said, but as he is such a young boy he didn't have a full grasp on what was happening. She just hoped he took to hockey so maybe in the future this is something he can participate in.

When asked if he was excited to skate on the ice, Grayson Hinton countered, "What is ice?"

More moments of innocence were apparent throughout the night. Many youngsters used trainers, a walker that you can use on ice, to guide them along. But many fell, too.

Julianna Matz's son Jack Esquibel, 7, attended the event for the first time, too, and was among some of those kids on the ice who just kept falling.

Matz said that Esquibel was more than excited to be at the event. Esquibel had a brother, John Esquibel, who had played on the high school team up until his senior year and had won a state championship.

So it was inevitable that the younger Esquibel would take a liking to the sport -- and getting back up every time he fell.

Matz cited John Henderson and Mark Richert, two coaches in the Taos Youth Hockey organization, as a reason for bringing her son to the event on Saturday.

During the event, though, hockey youth president Stafford kept it simple, having the kids stretch and do some laps to warm up. Then, the rink was split into two sides -- one side for the more experienced kids and the other side for the kids new to the sport.

They played games, ran drills and, more than anything, enjoyed their time learning the sport of hockey.

Before the kids got out onto the ice, Stafford asked the kids, "What do you do with your eyes" when skating?

They replied, in unison, "Keep them up."

That was step one in a long process of teaching the niche sport that is hockey. But Stafford doesn't mind -- that's what his job entails.

"This is of pivotal importance because what it represents essentially is the future of Taos hockey," Stafford said. "So you need to fill that pipeline. And hockey being a skill-intensive sport, it works to a player's advantage the earlier you start."

He continued: "It's always great to introduce people to a sport that they may have never tried before."


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