I can’t believe today would have marked my 6th consecutive year of helping out with the US Pond Hockey Championships (USPHC). However, due to my travel schedule this year I will be unable to help. Instead, I am getting ready to fly back to Minnesota this morning from a work trip. As sad as it is to break such a good streak and tradition, I figured I would reflect back on my prior times volunteering and how I came to be a volunteer 6 years ago.
Where it all Started for Me
Honestly, I stumbled across the USPHC kind of by accident. It was in my early time using Twitter and started following people and companies in the Twin Cities. One day I finally realized that a couple guys and a company I was following, kept talking about this event as the weather was getting colder. As it turns out the company was SportsNgin (now called SportsEngine), who was the major sponsor of the event and the guys who kept talking about it worked there and as luck would have it we’re the co-founders of the company (Justin and Carson). I decided to do some reading about the event and found out it was a big deal and that it was happening in January. To top it off, they were looking for volunteers and I figured what better way to spend a day off work than being outside.
So you decided to take a day off work and volunteer to stand on the ice for 8 hours in what could be really cold January weather?
Fair question, this probably piqued my interest more as I had just acquired the used materials for a backyard rink and was in the process of getting it ready for the cold. So as I was hearing about and seeing all of these pictures online of skating in the middle of a lake on an actual pond, I now wanted to see this event in person and watch some games.
Quick side story, I grew up in Iowa and have never played hockey in my life or really ice skated in any prolonged amount of time. I used to rollerblade and play roller hockey in the street but nothing on the ice.
Side benefits of volunteering
For what started out to be a random event that I volunteered at, actually ended up being a place I meet a lot of interesting people. Some of these people were ones that I had interacted with on social media before and now that we were meeting face to face it was like we knew each other already. Also, the tournament brings in a bunch of people from all around the state of Minnesota, across the US, and even a couple countries, so it was always fun chatting with people to figure out where they came from and their background stories of playing hockey. That is one of the side benefits of volunteering in an area outside of your “normal” zone, you get to meet people you probably wouldn’t have in your life. Every year since then I have enjoyed volunteering at the USPHC like the first. I continue to meet amazing people as well as keep in touch with some from previous years. Also, I get to spend a morning being outside on a big sheet of ice enjoying what nature has to offer (warm or cold). Through the years lots of efficiencies have been made in the Tournament operations as they have really upped their game, but at the core, it has stayed true to its roots of just getting people to play hockey outside as intended.
When you start to think about it 5 years is a long time to do anything in my opinion. Even though I couldn’t help out this year, I hope to make it to Nakomis and watch a couple of games. It really is an exciting event to watch in person and I haven’t experienced anything quite like it.
If you have made it this far and want to see what it looks like check out the US Pond Hockey Championships YouTube channel as they have some amazing videos from 2016 and 2017. I hope they put one out again this year as they get some amazing shots of the games and tournament. I am looking forward to hopefully helping out again next year as I always have a great time volunteering. Oh, and did I mention they give out some good hats. 😁