Click now to watch the latest video for the brand new DEK Hockey rink we recently launched in partnership with Tucson Unified School District, The Boys and Girls Club and The Tucson Roadrunners
Hockey’s popularity is at an all-time high. Broadcast ratings have been exceptional yet hurdles still exist and the sport struggles to take its rightful stake of the critical mass here in the United States.
These barriers are real, including the cost of entry and accessibility. Now, the EMPowerplay Initiative partners are working with experts on both sides of the blue line to eliminate these obstacles once and for all.
With key ingredients including DEK Hockey, Inner-City programs, unique ancillary revenue models and an unprecedented alliance with the industry elite, this initiative is being positioned as the one true platform for the sport, as well as players of all levels - from Kid to Pro. These are the essential elements that hockey has so sorely needed for decades.
EMPowerplay is a youth sports initiative whose sole mission is educating, motivating and ultimately empowering kids through the participation of sports.
"The hockey rink has been a very popular destination for the military families at Luke AFB. We are honored and deeply grateful to EMPowerplay, the Coyotes and to Fighter Country Partnership for their thoughtful generosity and support. The rink has created opportunities we never had before to learn and play hockey. The kids love it and many adults are taking up the sport."
Health and Wellness is a major priority of EMPowerplay. Our offerings will include state-of-the-art physiofacilities for hockey players and athletes alike as well as providing innovative services and programming promoting overall Health and Wellness for every visitor, patron and fan to an EMPowerplay affiliated destination.
EMPowerplay, is currently seeking a sponsored co-branded facility for each of the components including the Fitness, Physiology, Yoga and Health and Wellness Centers, and is currently in conversations with industry leaders in each of those disciplines.
This is not about athletic wellness as much as it is about over all health and wellness for all walks of life. This all leads back to the youths who will pass through EMPowerlay. By engaging in all-encompassing health and wellness initiatives for themselves, they can then share this knowledge forward with friends, family and the general populous thereby creating a more health conscious community around their home or wherever their life and or sports journey takes them.
Yes, hurdles for the growth of Hockey remain, but unlike the stigma that Hockey “is a winter sport”, the cost of entry and accessibility mentioned earlier, are the two main obstacles that must come down and DEK Hockey will play an essential role in making that a reality.
DEK is one of the fastest growing sports in North America, but unlike ice Hockey, where the costs of skates can run between $250.00 (moderate models) and $700.00 (premium models), in DEK, all you need are the running shoes you wore to school all day. Sticks for ice can run up into the hundreds but with DEK, the costs are $20-$40. Add in a pair of $10 shin guards, a $2 puck or ball and you’re on your way to enjoying one of the most exhilarating sports experiences anywhere.
Ice Hockey’s prohibitive costs are the #1 factor the sport has experienced little to no growth within our inner city. You don’t have to be an economist to sum up the reasons why certain sectors of N.A. simply cannot afford to introduce this great sport to their children - it’s not so much a cultural issue as it is just dollars and cents. After all, 125 years ago, the baseball mitt was not a common item found in The Dominican Republic, and now it’s one of the most prolific breeding grounds blessing the game with some of the greatest players to ever don an MLB uniform. The cost of entry into DEK Hockey is just slightly higher than Soccer making it an incredibly viable development asset for the future of Hockey - we ask you to join EMPpowerPlay in ushering in future superstars through DEK.
Contained within EMPowerplay’s philosophy is our obligation to preach the importance of “creating the foundation for the rest of your life”, now, so when “the game ends”, and it will, you’ll have the confidence knowing that your career is far from over - in fact in some cases, it’s just getting started.
This is more than just a factoid for athletes. With a combined average (all 4 major sports) career at just under 5 years, “the games” don't even get to the final buzzer, before one’s career is over.
78% of NFL players are either bankrupt or in financial trouble within two years of retirement (Sports Illustrated, WSJ)
An estimated 60% of NBA players go bankrupt within five years after leaving their sport (Sports Illustrated, ESPN)
The systemic financial difficulties of athletes and athlete retirees have reached epidemic proportions. It is because of this that EMPowerplay’s mission and expertise play such a key role within sports and athlete outreach.
It all starts with education. EMPowerplay is building a curriculum of training and seminars based on teaching young kids and veterans alike how to create a brand & business. This focus will aid players young and old, on how to build sustainable evergreen revenue streams, ultimately allowing them the ability to smoothly transition from entertainers to successful and responsible business owners. This objective includes the millions of kids (and adults) who love sports, but for whatever reason (physical limitations or otherwise) cannot participate in the playing of sports – helping to nurture these great minds to develop associated sports technologies, safety measures, health and wellness campaigns and equipment features is all part of the overall mission of EMPowerplay. Just because you can’t play, doesn’t mean you can’t contribute – on the contrary – you just need a platform to do so.
Multi -Industry veterans (tech, finance, sports, branding, etc) will mentor athletes and start-ups alike, helping them develop, evaluate and nurture their business concepts and eventually make them a reality, by connecting them with further funding and development sources from the Initiative’s network of global sponsors and partners.
In 2014, KuKaZi is engaged by Premier Sports to develop a brand and launch strategy for a new company who has acquired technology patents for rink manufacturing and hockey products.
The project reintroduces the sport to KuKaZi’s executive team who are instantly intrigued by found data suggesting Hockey has never captured its rightful piece of the American critical mass.
KuKaZi spends the next 10 months gathering data, conducting focus groups and studies and ultimately writes a thesis on the subject, specifically regarding the barriers to the sport and how to grow the game.
Early 2014, Kelly K (CE0, KuKaZi) and Jeff Morander (EVP, Arizona Coyotes) are introduced and quickly realize the synergy between them, as well as their collective passion to develop youth sports/Hockey.
2015, KuKaZi develops “powerPlay”- an all-encompassing platform for Hockey and the development of young athletes and students. Associated project initiatives start to develop across the country.
Spring 2015, “powerPlay” branches off an inner-city DEK Hockey program, Jeff Morander introduces the program to fellow Coyotes execs and a beautiful alliance is born.
Fall 2015, initiative is introduced to the NHL Players Association and The Industry Growth Fund and the project starts taking shape.
2017 and beyond - the first rink is launched at Luke Air Force Base, the initiative continues to grow and recognizes that some of the biggest growth of the game will be in the states of Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, California and Nevada.
As mentioned, Hockey’s popularity is at an all time high, yet the sport has yet to take its rightful stake of the mass market.
Consider this: not since the days of the NHL’s first expansions (67’-72’/73’-79’) has there been any player to fully transcend the game into mainstream contemporary pop-culture. In fact over the last 40 years, there’s only been one "household-name" player at all, and even “The Great One” did little with his brand - comparatively speaking. Focus group data shows us that super-stars of the game like Lemieux, Crosby, Toews and others (of the last 2 decades), are immeasurable regional stars but outside of Hockey fans themselves, are not widely known to the critical mass.
Howe, Orr, Mikita, Hull and more, were amongst a myriad of players who managed to transition into
celebrity status and flourished as brands themselves. These players were rock stars and some as big as
Elvis. In that era, spokesperson opportunities were plentiful and endorsement deals (big 3 auto makers,
N.A, chain restaurants) were the norm. Why is it that today the most recognizable National endorsement
deal for any ice athlete is with a *speed skater? Where’s our LeBron Crosby?
* Subway - Apolo Ohno
During the investigative process, we asked some basic but visceral questions including “Is it a visual thing (why there are not more hockey household names) ?” Apparently not. Statistics show that Women, ages 18-35, play an integral role in the overall growth of Hockey’s fan-base and make up one of the fastest growing demographics of fans over the last 15 years. We asked these same Women, “What was the main reason they started to follow Hockey”, and immediately following the #1 reason of “My children play the game”, the emphatic close second was “magnetic attraction” with 9 out of 10 Women stating “Hockey players are the sexiest athletes on earth”. Clearly it’s not a visual thing.
Is it an educational thing? Not according to the experts, including the NHL, Vox Media/SB Nation, and CBS Sports, who state, of the two main sources for prospects (CHL, NCAA), a record 301 NCAA players suited up for NHL teams in ‘14 (36% of all NHL players come from NCAA, not including Canadian colleges) and over the last 12 seasons, players entering the NHL from the NCAA has grown 43%. Evidently, smarts don’t play into it either.
So even with a plethora of sexy, smart, millionaires on hand, the questions remained: why are there not more National celeb-status players (U.S) and when will Hockey finally bring down the walls that bar it from its ultimate financial and creative freedom? As the data came in, the answer became clearer and clearer: Hockey has no platform. Hockey has no soapbox, and no real voice to speak from. Hockey, has no Nike (or similar global podium).
Throughout the 70’s and into the early 80’s, basketball and the NBA struggled to take its place on the National scene. Deemed a promising proposition, a handful of critical issues prevented it from blossoming as a true contender to Football, Baseball and yes, even Hockey.
The NBA battled crucial stumbling blocks including a booming College program, poor officiating and agonizingly long road trips where viewers themselves could bear witness to talented teams giving way to lack luster performances in small and less than par arenas. And TV would be part to blame: with scant ratings, the NBA often couldn’t reach the level of popularity of its younger cousin, College Hoops. What started out with indications of success, quickly evolved into a difficult decade for the NBA - and then along came Nike.
David Stern, in all his success, did not change the face of basketball. In our humble opinion and via the data we found, it was singlehandedly Nike, who changed the game, people’s perception and the NBA itself. Nike went into the urban marketplace and inner-city and created a soapbox where a new breed of athletes could develop and enthusiasts could thrive in. A content platform was born, respected content developers like Spike Lee created captivating campaigns where new players like Jordan could stretch their wings - and the rest they say, is history.
It has never been clearer that Hockey needs a platform to broadcast from. A multi-faceted face that enthusiasts can trust and rely on for everything Hockey. From state-of-the-art training facilities, to youth combine, to educational, health and wellness centers, to DEK Hockey and inner-city outreach, to original content, programming, information, lifestyle activewear and more - this is exactly how EMPowerplay is positioning itself, starting with DEK and then our soon-to-launch next generation sports, entertainment and family destinations.
EMPowerplay’s aim is to be a philanthropic leader in the communities in which it resides by implementing creative and much-needed charitable programs like the soon to be launched AALYS (pronounced allies). Through relentless effort, we’ll make our mark by always striving to find new and useful ways of providing value to those who are truly in need. Some of the proposed initiatives include Inner City Outreach and Scholarships (crusade to build an inclusive hockey and life environment), Developmental Programming (including teaching kids life lessons through hockey and athletics), Safety and Educational Programming, and working directly with Children’s hospitals, The Boys and Girls Club, The Y, Make a Wish Foundation and alike organizations.
Beyond the more traditional philanthropic efforts, EMPowerplay will also provide a platform for Hockey’s youth, to learn and grow and become contributing members of society. With the message that “your most important value in life is how you positively effect the lives of others”, we’ll look to build not only the next generation of great hockey players, but much more importantly the next generation of leaders.
Although there is little to no direct revenue derived from philanthropic efforts, you simply can’t put a price on authentic execution of a true conscience branding objective. EMPowerplay partners define this as enhancing your brand equity in the marketplace by showing customers (fans, patrons, visitors) that you indeed have their best interests in mind. This is not some contrived PR campaign to make the brand appear ‘good’, but instead proving through leadership action that this brand stands for good.
Hockey players (fans & pros) will have the opportunity to create their own profiles that link directly to their on-ice performance.
As they visit more frequently, their personal data will highlight improvements that have been made and areas where improvement is still needed.
Users will be able to compare their performance to their peers & friends.
Coaches, GM’s, Scouts and agents will be provided tools to search for the next great player – and the ONLINE users will be aware of that potential.
The EMPowerplay opportunity includes a total solution combining not only the aesthetics, functionality, and cost concerns, but also equipment and information regarding the product itself. However, also included is the full support from our all of project partners, to ensure you get the help you need to implement the program and take advantage of the plethora of ancillary opportunities that exist for an initiative such as this.
It is our hope that the information contained here within reveals our true intent of furthering the collective commitment to youth sports and the spectacular game of hockey by introducing the sport to new participants throughout North America and ensuring the growth of hockey for generations to come.
A state-of-the-art DEK rink with a suggested size of 150 x 75. This rink size has proven to be the optimal dimension for the sport’s growth, for both kids and adults alike. Should your location not allow for this size and you need a smaller rink, a custom design solution can be created for your specific community needs.
Complete rink information from manufacturing details, products and materials used (rink and flooring/playing surface), to sample designs, warranty information and more.
Information regarding maintenance requirements, including upkeep, cleaning, flooring and dasher board care.
Construction, site evaluation, installation, and all information regarding the build.
Fully integrated marketing programs designed to promote project awareness.
Programming information and support.
Ideally, we are looking for entities, public or private, that are currently involved in, or have been involved in some type of organized youth sports programming and, can meet the minimum space requirements for a 150 x 75 square foot DEK rink, as exampled throughout this site.
Optimally, this entity also maintains all current and necessary permitting as well as carries all applicable liability insurances, as needed for a youth sports operation such as the one proposed here.
This runs the gamut from private hockey or sports related operations or franchises, to municipalities, like parks and rec centers. This also includes nationally owned and or operated youth organizations such as the YMCA, Boys Club of America, and alike associations.
However, this opportunity is also open to sports retail operations, local community centers, even a hospital or children’s charitable institution looking to expand their curriculum. In fact, if you (or your organization) do not currently meet the criteria above but are still interested in being involved in youth sports or you have future plans to do so, we’d like to hear from you - and invite you to read through the material, fill out the form and keep the dialogue going.
Ultimately, these partnerships, your involvement and our commitment to the growth of the game, is what allows these DEK programs to develop and thrive.
We recently launched a brand new DEK rink in Tucson, Arizona at the Girls & Boys Club on the campus of Doolen Middle School. Click now to watch the launch video and learn more about what's heading to a town near you!Watch The Video
We’d love to hear from you! Click on “Message Us” above, (and fill out the form) to learn more about the project!