Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Got the Cup, Now What?!

The 2008-2009 sports season has come and gone. While my beloved Fighting Sioux Hockey team won the McNaughton Cup (the trophy given to the team with the best regular-season record) in a nail-biting-last-game-of-the-season, they faced tough competition in the post-season that withheld them from taking the voyage out to Washington D.C. to play in the NCAA Frozen Four (their first time not present in 5 years). The good news is that all of the juniors will be returning to lead the team next year, and those 8 graduating seniors have almost all found their professional team in which they will take their next jump in life.

A new venture that we’re starting at the arena is an elite hockey academy. The Hockey Academy is being spearhead by former UND Assistant Coach (and former AHL Manitoba Moose Head Coach), Brad Berry with the assisting in the program by former professional player and UND alumnus Erik Fabian.

The Hockey Academy will train the local hockey athletes beyond that of what their high school may be able to do. Watching the transformation in the room downstairs; from a store room to the new home of a hockey treadmill and synthetic ice complete with shooting stations, was quite unbelievable. Officially starting in a couple of weeks but there have already been some students already taking advantage of some of the training. For more information on the Hockey Academy, check out their website.

The arena quiets down a lot after the school year finishes up. The 2:00 ice practice is no longer; the Friday night anticipation of the weekend’s game has dissolved. The sun is shining both when you get to work in the morning AND leave for the day. In a time of off-season prepping and rejuvenation, it sometimes leaves the office with a much-needed time of relaxation. Finding a department with its entire staff in the office for the week is almost unheard of; family vacations, weekend rendezvous, or even just wasting a day to enjoy the day to yourself. On one hand, it’s kind of like our Zen; on the other hand, it’s the calm before the storm.

It is always fun to see which of the student athletes stick around for the summer to further their training and take part in UND’s Hockey Camp. Sometimes, this could be trouble (like running into some of the guys “after hours”) or it just brings you back to reality; they’re just another person, as are you. No one is invincible; you only work for each other despite the lack of face-to-face contact. It’s not as much of a deal to “know” the hockey players for the sake of name-dropping. I’m older than many of them by at least 5 years; but knowing who they truly are, their life stories, their dreams and hopes for the future; that in itself is what I take pride in.

With that, expect to see some stories of former Sioux players in the future and how they have made a name for themselves in the professional world; whether that is hockey or business.

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