With everyone frantically trying to get their Christmas shopping done, or started, it is important to take a moment and remember what we are thankful for.
It is hard to believe that the Mustangs are about a year old already, and what a year it has been. We would like to reflect on some of the things that we are thankful for as 2015 is coming to a close.
In early October we applied for a $25,000 grant. LaBatt USA partnered with USA Hockey to award 10 new sled hockey programs in the United States a grant for new equipment, uniforms, program costs, and ice time. On November 5th, the Mustangs were notified that they were selected as one of the winners.
We are extremely grateful for this very generous gift. The grant money will be primarily used to help grow our program. Now, more than ever, we look to recruit more players and help others find a competitive sport they can play. Thank you to LaBatt USA and USA Hockey, the money will be used to its full potential. Check out our video that helped us win. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1bOrCOWtLM
Volunteers give most non-profit organizations the energy and passion that it takes to succeed, and we have some of the best. Without our volunteers we wouldn’t exist. Our volunteers are dedicated, reliable, motivated, and most importantly, passionate. Not only do our volunteers help us operate, but they also give us the energy and encouragement needed to keep pushing forward. Thank you to everyone who helps, it is your passion and dedication that gives this team life.
A growing program needs some help from outside the organization along the way. We have been fortunate to get the support from local news stations (and we were even able to steal an anchor as an assistant coach).
KTTC’s Chris Barriere helped us gain traction within the first few months of our program’s start. He did a wonderful job of capturing our first practice, and what it meant to the players to have an opportunity to try a new sport. Chris is now a regular on-ice helper. His original story can be found here: http://www.kttc.com/story/29628510/sled-hockey-continues-to-grow-in-rochester.
ABC 6 News’ Jeanna Radz solidified our growth with her story on our youngest skater Landon. You can see it
Even though they are competing stations, we thank both of them for helping us show the community who the Mustangs are.
And finally we would like to thank our players. Every one of our players has different circumstances that led them to sled hockey. It can be scary starting a new sport, especially with the added complexity of medical issues. Hockey can be an intimidating sport, for anyone, but every Sunday our players show up. They encourage one another, they push one another, and even though they all have different ailments, they have bonded over the common goal of improving their game.
The Mustangs thank everyone who has helped our program grow in our first full year, including those who have shown their support on Facebook and Twitter.
I would like to personally thank everyone involved with the Mustangs program. The best gift I received this year was the opportunity to play hockey. Becoming involved with the Mustangs has given me far more than I expected. I have met new friends and great people, and I have an appropriate focus for my competitive fire again.
About the author
Justin McClanahan is a Public Relations major at Winona State University. Justin is a player and board member for the Rochester Mustangs.