Girls high school hockey players in Anchorage, Alaska thought they were about to embark on their final season. The program needed money to keep it afloat.
Enter Dick’s Sporting Goods and their Sports Matter program. The organization recently surprised players with a $200,000 grant that will fund teams through a donation to the Scotty Gomez Foundation, an organization founded by St. Louis Blues forward and Anchorage area native Scott Gomez.
In 2013, the foundation provided funds for the league to continue to operate through this year. That funding was about to run out before Dick’s Sporting Goods stepped in to make the donation.
According to Dick’s, “The donation will cover the operating fees for the league and fund each of the girls’ pay-to-play fees through the 2018 season.”
Dick's Sporting Goods also donated $15,000 worth of new equipment, which included 100 sticks, 100 helmets, practice jerseys, equipment bags, goalie equipment and new pucks. The video of the donation is above.
“We’re so thankful for what Dick's and The Dick's Sporting Goods Foundation did for our teams,” Mandy Reale, hockey director of the Scotty Gomez Foundation in Anchorage said in a release. “A gesture like this proves to the girls that people care about them – people that don’t even live or work here want to make sure that they can still play hockey. There’s not even a Dick's store anywhere in the state of Alaska!”
Gomez was thrilled with the donation.
“I’m so excited that these girls get to keep playing,” he said. “It was a tough situation to realize that these girls may not be able to take the ice next season after all we had done in the past to keep them playing. You never want to let anyone down, especially the people in your hometown. I’m so thankful for this funding from Dick's and its foundation.”
Gomez also discussed the importance hockey played in his life and giving back to his community in a Sports Illustrated story.
“The game has provided so much for me and my family,” Gomez says. “But at the same time, you have to have the opportunity. Even if you don’t make the professional ranks, the people you meet and the lessons you learn [make it] important for girls to have those opportunities, just as it is for boys. I wanted these kids to experience some of the things that I did.”
Dick's Sporting Goods says its Sports Matter program was made in order to help keep youth active through sports. They estimate 27 percent of United States high schools won’t have sports programs by 2020 and says sports has as positive impact on kids with academics and social skills.
"We were drawn to the commitment that the community in Anchorage has made to this league to ensure that the girls were able to continue playing the sport they love. When we learned that funding was running extremely low and that this would be the league’s last season, we wanted to step-in to ensure this sport didn’t disappear for the girls of the Anchorage community," said Ryan Eckel, VP of brand marketing for Dick's Sporting Goods, in a statement sent to Puck Daddy. "One of the goals of our Sports Matter program is to raise awareness of the youth sports funding crisis that is going on in our country. By creating a moving and emotional piece of content about this hockey team, our hope is to bring a lot of attention to what could happen in our county if we don’t work together to keep sports funded for our youth."
Girls high school hockey started in Anchorage in 2003. This year an estimated 100 girls will play on three teams, including one with players from four schools.
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