“It’s given me the time to be intentional about the next phase of my life, and that’s dedicating my second career to my passions, which are hockey and the Hispanic community,” Montoya said.
His goal is to grow hockey by incorporating Latinos into the conversation around the sport. Recently, he was a panelist for USA Hockey’s Let’s Grow Forward webinar. This focused on different ways the Hispanic community is already joining the larger hockey family and, even more importantly, discussed ways to get them further involved. During the webinar, Montoya and fellow panelist, Robert Torres, talked about their work together. Montoya has partnered with Torres’ organization Parents for Peace and Justice, a Hispanic community in Montoya’s Chicago hometown. Montoya is also part of the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee.
Montoya sees a grassroots effort taking shape, bringing hockey to Hispanic communities that maybe cannot afford to play hockey or don’t immediately gravitate toward the sport. Hockey isn’t the first sport Hispanics reach out to, Montoya added. In Cuba, there was no ice; kids play baseball or box, he said.
Still, he believes with the celebratory nature of Hispanic culture and how everyone loves to come together that there’s no reason that Hispanics shouldn’t be passionate about hockey as well, he said.
“I know they love speed, I know they love action,” Montoya said. “And by doing that and by starting at the grassroots level, you’ll check all the boxes at the end of the day with fan inclusion and marketing players. The game will continue to grow.”
He’s making it a goal to get out and interact with youth, so he can get them involved in hockey at more of a grassroots level. Or maybe his role will also be working at the NHL level to help put fans in the seats. He’d love for the “fantastic” game of hockey and the “fantastic” Hispanic community to be blended together.
Montoya’s outreach is local with the Hispanic community, but he’s also had conversations with NHL general managers and presidents. It’s all about finding a home for his vision and getting to work right away.
“It started out as an idea, and I’ve had a year to grow this thing and grow this thing,” Montoya said. “I’m looking forward to finally putting it all together.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.