Two Pre-teens to Present Improvement Plan for Hockey Rink and Wow Supervisors


Natalie Van Druff, 11, left, and Lilly Walter, 11, right, take a break from playing pick up hockey to get a quick picture by one of the park’s goals. Photo by Kate Van Druff

by Kate Van Druff & Alexis Tarantino;

GILBERTSVILLE, PA – Hockey besties Natalie Van Druff and Lilly Walter, both 11, return to the New Hanover Municipal Building on Thursday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m. to present their hockey rink improvement plan before the full board of supervisors in Gilbertsville, PA.

But that’s not all! The girls have been busy. They’ve also written, directed and filmed a movie trailer with their hockey friends and launched their very first fundraiser to help raise money to fix up their beloved rink!

As covered by CBS3, the girls previously presented their Dream Big ideas on January 24, 2024 and these improvement efforts closely follow their charge to save their dek hockey rink back in November as covered by Fox 29 News and Crossing Broad.

Natalie Van Druff, 11, left, and Lilly Walter, 11, right, meet at Chick-Fil-A to practice their presentation for the New Hanover Township Board of Supervisors Meeting.  Photo by Kate Van Druff

As a brief recap, the hockey girls wasted no time last November in standing up to advocate for something they love - the well-worn hockey rink at New Hanover Community Park off of Gail Drive in New Hanover Township.

Natalie Van Druff, 11, left, and Lilly Walter, 11, right, stand at the front of the room in the New Hanover Township Municipal Building prior to their “Dream Big” presentation on January 24, 2024. They have upgraded their presentation since then and the girls are now ready to take a bigger step within their community. Photo by Kate Van Druff

At the time, the hockey dek was under consideration to be turned into pickleball courts, which are already plentiful in the area. Meanwhile, the public hockey rink is a unique and rare offering in this area.

Lilly Walter, 11, left, and Natalie Van Druff, 11, right, enjoy a hockey sunset at the New Hanover Community Park where they play pick up hockey. Photo by Kate Van Druff

At that initial meeting, kids, parents, and coaches from Boyertown Ice Hockey, Pottstown Jesters Travel Ball Hockey, and Pottstown PAL Dek Hockey and beyond flooded the municipal building in hockey jerseys with some players carrying sticks or even wearing full gear, to speak and show support for keeping free public access to their favorite sport on a rink they love.

Fortunately, the girls’ initiative and outpouring of support from local hockey families saved the dek hockey rink. Now, Lilly and Natalie lead their grassroots effort further and return to the municipal building with a compelling case for improvements to the rink, designed for safety, longevity, and community building.

“Come help us write the next chapter of our hockey dream,” says Lilly Walter, 11, a New Hanover Township member and 5th grade student in Boyertown School District.

“What started as two 11-year-olds pleading for an old hockey dek to be saved, turned into a community rallying together. Be at the township building on Thursday, March 7 to support us while we present what Natalie and I think we need to make our hockey dek safe and fun for years to come for all of us to enjoy.”

Ahead of the meeting, Lilly and Natalie are excited to share all the hard work they’ve been doing behind the scenes for their passion project.

“We’ve been working hard to create an exclusive movie trailer that shows how far we’ve come and how many people love this rink,” says Natalie Van Druff, a 6th grade student in the Boyertown School District and player for all three local hockey programs.

“We are so grateful to our friends for their help with that. We’ve also been working on a T-shirt fundraiser that has three designs, including the design that I made that shows what this project is all about, called Save the Love. Besides that, we’ve been talking to sponsors and looking for ways to make our dek safer and longer lasting for generations to come.”

The two girls collaborated over numerous days and countless hours to prepare themselves for this meeting and their chance to do something really great for the community. Both Natalie and Lilly have expressed great thanks for their hockey teammates and friends who’ve stepped up to help in the grassroots effort.

Regionally, Montgomery County is a hotbed for hockey. A survey of the local area clubs mentioned above shows hundreds of hockey players and families across just these three programs.

Numerous teenagers, parents, and adults in the area also play for rec leagues and more elite leagues and ball hockey tournaments near and far, including several local teens, Gianna Dattilo, Colin Costello, and Chase Wiley, who represented Team USA in the World Games in Austria just last year.

Beyond organized hockey, new families are coming out every week to try pick up hockey at the New Hanover Park. Pick up hockey is essentially setting up hockey playdates at the park where teams are assembled by dividing up sticks.

This casual and friendly style of play is open to the public and creates a positive and supportive environment for literally anyone to just pick up a stick and give hockey a try.

The chilly weather doesn’t stop them! Hockey friends meet at the park in the wintertime to play. Front Row from left: Lee Wanner, Alexis Tarantino, Olivia Van Druff, Natalie Van Druff, Lilly Walter. Back Row from left: Kate Van Druff, Gianna Dattilo, Liz Crouthamel, Raylin Dattilo, Rachel Martz, Justin Van Druff.

Recent weeknight pickup hockey gatherings have brought together as many as 15 to 25 kids and parents to play hockey at New Hanover Park, even in the winter! Some weekends pull together even more people!

Rain is no match for these hockey kids! Shailynn Coccia, 13, left, and Natalie Van Druff, 11, right, take the faceoff at pick up hockey at New Hanover Community Park. Delaynie Coccia, 9, prepares to drop the ball while Spencer Shovelton, left, Lilly Walter, center, and Logan Ziemba, right, get ready to play. Photo by Kate Van Druff

“We are grateful for everyone who came out to help this cause and who showed love towards this rink,” says Natalie Van Druff. “We’re so excited to help build up the community!”

The girls call on the New Hanover Township Board of Supervisors to partner together on an approach that can make a long-lasting, positive impact for the community and to allow the ideal possibility of donors and corporate sponsors to help their hockey dreams come true.

Natalie Van Druff, 11, Jordyn Heckler, 12, Lilly Walter, 11, and Olivia Van Druff, 8, have fun playing hockey on a rainy day at the park. Photo by Kate Van Druff

Photo / Video Opp - Thursday, March 7, 2024 at the New Hanover Township Municipal Building, 2943 North Charlotte Street, Gilbertsville, PA 19525. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

*Happy to accommodate. Please contact us for other requests.*

Contact Kate Van Druff for more information or photos of Natalie and Lilly and hockey pictures. or text / call 267-733-2047,

More Info:
The girls’ T-shirt Sale Fundraiser is currently live at:

The girls movie trailer “To Grow the Game” is live at:



More News from Boyertown
I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified