- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Youth hockey coach Neal Henderson, co-founder of the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, the oldest minority hockey club in North America, has been named an inductee to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Henderson is one of five members of the Class of 2019, which will celebrate its induction Dec. 12 at the Marriott Marquis in the District.

Henderson, 82, moved to the area in the 1960s and established Fort Dupont in 1978 as a way to grow the sport in the region and teach inner-city youth life lessons through hockey.

He coached the club’s youth team, the Cannons, and still works with the club today. The club is now a community partner of the Washington Capitals.

Henderson, who now lives in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was congratulated by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis for his selection.

“Coach Henderson richly deserves this recognition for his decades of commitment to the District’s hockey programs and our local youth sports,” Norton said in a statement. “Coach Henderson embodies the best values of the District of Columbia and its residents. This is a well-deserved induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.”

Neal Henderson is a pioneer in hockey in the Washington and Baltimore communities,” Leonsis wrote. “We are fortunate to have an advocate for hockey such as Henderson who consistently brings joy to the sport while sharing his wealth of knowledge with kids. Henderson’s work with Fort Dupont Ice Arena and D.C.’s minority hockey programs is a vibrant part of our community and he is a true ambassador for the sport of hockey.”

Henderson is joined in the class by current NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and former players Brian Gionta, Tim Thomas and Krissy Wendell.

He was also integral in the NHL launching its diversity program, Hockey is for Everyone.

“When you have kids that are in situations and different home settings, where they’re used to the words ‘no,’ ‘stop,’ ‘don’t,’ ‘can’t,’ ‘cannot,’ ‘will not,’” Henderson told The Washington Times last year, “you turn over those things into ‘I will’ and ‘I can,’ it makes a big difference in their outlook.”

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