Fairfield Ludlowe High School Senior Launches Program to Expose Inner City Elementary Students to Ice Hockey

Fairfield, CT - Fairfield Ludlowe High School senior and avid hockey fan John Vallillo has launched Chance To Play, a fully integrated program that exposes young urban kids to ice hockey. John has been a member of the high school varsity hockey team since he was a freshman, Vallillo currently serves as the captain of Ludlowe High School’s hockey team and plays center position. He is truly passionate about the sport and was disheartened to learn that hockey is not introduced to many schools in the inner cities surrounding his town due to the cost of the sport. 

Nearly 90% of children are interested in a sport as a result of exposure in elementary school physical education classes. Because public schools are not incorporating hockey into the curriculum, there is low enrollment from more urban areas in the sport as students get older.

Vallillo, who is a huge Boston Bruins Hockey fan, has educated himself about large scale community outreach programs that Boston offers to expose inner city kids to the sport and he wanted to execute a similar program at a smaller scale in his metropolitan area. This inspired him to create Chance To Play, a program that exposes elementary age kids to the sport, secures future ice time for players if they are interested in trying ice hockey and offers a full scholarship for programming and equipment if they choose to continue with the sport. Vallillo’s objective was to not only expose kids to the sport, but to actually give them a real opportunity to play in the future.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Vallillo had to put the program on hold, but used the time to continue developing the initiative so that when schools finally did reopen, he could offer them a fully comprehensive opportunity to get kids exposed and playing hockey. He secured big sponsors, such as the Bridgeport Islanders and USA Hockey to help him fund and execute the Chance To Play program.

He has also offered local physical education teachers the opportunity for him to teach hockey to schools that don’t offer it as part of their curriculum on their school premises. While John is also a student in school, he has been able to work out with his teachers and guidance counselor, to be excused from classes and make up his work alternatively so that he can fulfill the duties he offers to the other schools in his area.

Vallillo has executed this program at the Hall School in Bridgeport CT to 3rd-6th grade students and has been asked to return as a result of its success. For many of the students, it was their first exposure to hockey, and converted them to avid fans of the sport. He has other Bridgeport elementary schools lined up to participate in the program and is currently working with the Bridgeport Islanders and USA Hockey to host a “learn to play” program day with students, giving them the opportunity to learn to skate and play hockey on the big ice. Following this program, Vallillo will work with USA Hockey to obtain equipment and program scholarships for students who may be interested in a future playing the sport.

For more information about John Vallillo and Chance To Play, please visit chancetoplay.net. Follow his instagram @chancetoplayct



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