Minnesota Hockey Journal

March 2021

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M A R C H 2 0 2 1 | M H J ON L I N E . C O M 15 Interest and registration numbers are con- stantly growing, which is a testament to the community's passion for the game. "Our numbers are up, with the exception of this year with COVID -19," Marquardt said. "Even so, our retention rate was very good, which speaks volumes that our players want to play hockey. No matter what, they want to play the sport they love. They just have a passion for hockey." Marquardt is especially pleased to see the association's girls' hockey program numbers back on the rise. "It's had its peaks and valleys, as many have over the past 15-20 years," Marquardt said. "But we're really focusing on growing our girls' program so that we can have sever- al teams at each level." FINDING ICE TIME Thanks to a steady increase in numbers every year, the White Bear Lake Area Hockey Association is constantly in need of ice. "It's a good and very hectic problem to have," Marquardt said. "We have to do a lot of careful thinking. Equality is key in a hockey association of this size. It's equity across the table, which is great and the way it should be." The association utilizes multiple sheets of ice throughout the area, and is currently working on projects to potentially expand its opportunities for ice time. Younger skaters in the association have the opportunity to skate at the Hippodrome Ice Arena—the oldest ice arena within the Twin Cities metro area still in operation. "The kids love to skate at the Hippodrome," Marquardt said. "There's just so much histo- ry there. We're working on some projects to bring a lot of that history back to the Hippodrome and showcasing it in art dis- plays and things like that. We're really trying to make that history known, because it's a very passionate history." Though it's not a full regulation-sized rink, the Hippodrome is a beloved sheet of ice that's been around since 1926—making it a popular venue for skaters. "There's never an hour of ice available at the Hippodrome," Marquardt said. "It's the most coveted of our rinks because of the fact that it is far cheaper to rent. Our school district has never demanded to make a prof- it. They only look to break even. They are a tremendous asset." GIVING BACK One of the strongest assets for the associa- tion is support from the community. "What really helps our association is our charitable gambling, and that goes right back into our association," Marquardt said. "Whether that's paying for ice bills—or recently we did a renovation project with the city of White Bear Lake and the White Bear Lake Sports Center. So we try to make our hockey as affordable as possible." Through charitable gambling, the associa- tion has also been able to not only help cover ice rental time and rink improvements, but also player development coaching opportunities. "Our community is just unbelievable gen- erous," Marquardt said. "Hockey is kind of the lifeline of White Bear sports, and our community is wonderful at supporting it. We understand that, and we're always tell- ing our players and parents to give back to those businesses. It's a reciprocal that we've always had." BUILDING RESPECT The White Bear Lake Area Hockey Association knows that in order to be successful on the ice and thrive as an association, kids have to put in the effort in the classroom. "We really push for school to be first," Marquardt said. "We have a lot of our coach- es that push for making the grades in order to play, and that bleeds all the way up to our high school programs." That commitment breeds a quality that Marquardt says is one of the most important. "Respect," Marquardt said. "That comes from our coaches, our parents and our volun- teers as a whole. We put a lot of time into trying to teach our kids that although hockey is a sport, it's really a learning experience with life." Third and fourth generation hockey players are suiting up for the Bears.

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