Members of Boys and Girls Club of Tucson try out the new William J. Dawson Memorial Rink on the campus of Doolen Middle School, 2400 N Country Club Rd. in Tucson, AZ on July 23, 2018. The Tucson Roadrunners unveiled new DEK hockey rink at and an official ribbon cutting event. The site will be managed by The Boys and Girls Club of Tucson and shared between them, Doolen Middle School and The Roadrunners said Bob Hoffman, Roadrunners President. There are plans to install lights and a cover over deck. The deck will also ultimately be used to host lessons, tournaments and provide scheduled times for public use.

A new outdoor hockey rink that will be available to TUSD students and kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Tucson was unveiled yesterday at Doolen Middle School.

The new $250,000 rink was installed thanks to an initiative launched last year by The Arizona Coyotes (parent club to the Tucson Roadrunners), the NHL and the NHLPA (National Hockey League Players Association) to build new dek hockey rinks around Arizona.

Side note: Dek hockey is also known as street hockey or ball hockey. 

The rink will be utilized by Tucson Unified School District during school days and by the Boys and Girls Club after hours for its programs, said Walt Ruff, spokesperson for the Tucson Roadrunners.

"This is an opportunity for Doolen students to have another venue for PE, both for general education students and special education students," said Renee Morales, Doolen principal. "There will also be opportunities for classes to use the space for various activities. Eventually the space will be covered and this will offer Doolen students, as well as other TUSD middle school teams to compete under a covered facility."

The Boys and Girls Club of Tucson will use the rink for hockey classes and other sports activities for its youth, said Debbie Wagner, from BGCT.

"Our goals would be to create BGCT teams for each of our six clubhouses that could each play each other and community teams as they develop through TUSD and Roadrunners programs," Wagner said. 

For now, the rink will not be open to the general public, but there are plans for discussions on how else to use the new rink. 

"Within the coming months there will be lights and a canopy installed at the facility that will allow us to operate the rink past sunset," Ruff said. "Upon completion of those items (and others, such as picnic tables, planted trees, etc.), our attention will turn to how we can best utilize the rink when not operated by the school and the Boys and Girls Club. Our intention is to create clinics and recreational leagues in the future."

Creating the opportunity for kids to experience the game of hockey was something the Tucson Roadrunners wanted to do since its inception a little over two years ago, Ruff said.

The Arizona Coyotes have built three DEK rinks in the Phoenix area since the launch of the initiative. 

"We are so excited that we were able to have our turn building the first of hopefully many facilities here in Tucson," Ruff said.

Angela Pittenger | This Is Tucson