Duluth Heights Outdoor Ice Rink Fully Operated By Community

DULUTH, Minn. — What better way to grow up as a hockey player than getting to do it outdoors, any time you want, with some of your best friends. One outdoor association continues to develop young hockey players, and show others just how fun it can be.

Duluth is one of the last cities in the upper Midwest to have a fully operating outdoor hockey association. Offering this to the neighboring youth and community members is a tradition this association wants to keep going.

“The neighborhood rinks are a dying art, so we have families from all of our neighborhoods who come in, who run our hockey rink, who coach our kids, and just keep everything operating here,” Kim Oppelt, a Duluth Heights Parent said.

The families are so dedicated to their work, as they come in their free time to maintain the rink from 6 am to 6 pm, and sometimes even through the night.

“So we have parents who have been here maybe 24 hours around the clock for the past maybe week, we have people plowing when it snowed, then they started laying down water,” Oppelt said.

The outdoor hockey association is not run by the city, but is 100% volunteer based.

For parents, the ability to raise their kids in an outdoor league for 4 to 11 year olds is a pretty special thing.

“This is my sons I think 6th or 7th year of outdoor hockey and it’s his last. So now he moves indoors, and just to have all of the friendships he’s built over the years, and to be able to just come down to the rink just down the street and to see his friends and play some hockey, it’s just so unique,” Oppelt added.

The league holds practices and games during the week as well as tournaments and jamborees on weekends. They travel to other outdoor association rinks to play as well.

“This is Minnesota hockey, here we are, this is the epitome of Minnesota hockey, and being up north like this, we get this unique experience, and it’s just such an exciting time to be a Minnesotan really,” said Oppelt.

The association loves to hold this tradition for their families, but always invites the community to use the rink too.

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