Being a part of the women’s hockey team at UMB means much more than meets the eye. It’s not always about the fun (or not so fun) practices or about winning games. It’s much more than spending countless hours cheering each other on in the weight room or who wins the shootout at the end of practice. Yes, these things are all very important and they all help shape our team, however, there is much more to it. Being a part of this team means giving back our time to those who support us and to the people who need our support.
Since we started preseason on September 9th, we’ve skated and have been in the weight room four times a week. On the weekends, we’ve donated our time to different organizations that have needed help or support. As most of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One of our very own beloved Beacons, Katherine Wall, lost her battle against breast cancer on September 2nd of this year. Katherine was a valued member of the soccer, hockey, and softball programs at UMB and was inducted into the UMass Boston Hall of Fame. Our women’s soccer team held their 2nd annual “Do It for Wall” game that our team attended in order to support Katherine and the team. Because Katherine is such a strong part of our program, it is very important to us to express our support and put our time into the fight against breast cancer.
We had the privilege of volunteering at the “Race for a Cure” event for Susan G. Komen in South Boston. We all had various jobs like painting faces, handing out souvenirs, or simply cheering the racers on. It was so great to see the amount of people there supporting and fighting against breast cancer and we were very lucky to be a part of that. Last weekend we volunteered at the “Making Strides Walk” in downtown Boston. We all got to cheer people on as they walked by waving our pom poms and yelling as loud as we can. It was inspiring to see so many women that walked who have fought against and conquered breast cancer. Seeing the “Survivor” sashes and they’re smiling faces as we cheered when they crossed the finish line was the most humbling experience. There were over 6,000 people that walked to support breast cancer and to be a part of that was so rewarding.
Next week, we have “Beacons Academy” which is where a few players from our team go to a couple local schools and teach the kids to play the game of hockey. I participated in this last year and it was so awesome seeing the kids faces light up when we gave them a stick to use. A majority of the kids we see don’t have the opportunity to play in youth leagues of any sport so it’s really great to be able to teach them something they aren’t familiar with and will hopefully enjoy. We will be going to one school and one boys and girls club in Dorchester where we will play with the kids and show them the ropes. Within the next couple of weeks, we are hoping to start a youth clinic that will be held at the Beacons Ice Arena and will be ran by our team. We would like to do it one night a week, every other week, for kids of all ages who want to learn the game of hockey. We want to help them with the basic skills such as skating and passing so they can learn to the love the game like we do. Taking part in these programs give kids the opportunity to learn something new, learn to love hockey, and grow the game.
The most significant and personal support our team has shown was this past Sunday at the 1st Annual Tony Alonardo 5K Race in Wilmington, MA. Tony unexpectedly passed away in April of this year and left many people heartbroken. He was an avid lover of hockey, playing for over 15 years and coaching his daughters, Sara and Michelle, along with several youth teams in Wilmington for over 11 years. He also served on the Wilmington Youth Hockey Board of Directors for many years. With Tony being the father of one of our very own, we felt that our presence and support on the day of the race was very important. We wanted to show Sara how much love we have for her and let her know we will always be there for her and her family. The day couldn’t have been more perfect: a sunny, fall day filled with people who wanted to celebrate Tony’s life and show their support for the Alonardo family. Starting off with a warm-up to “Cupid Shuffle” really set the tone for a happy and exciting day. The proceeds of the race will go towards Sara and Michelle’s college expenses and The Tony Alonardo Wilmington Youth Hockey Scholarship, which is awarded to a male and female who grew up playing Wilmington Youth Hockey. Our team couldn’t have been happier to be part of this special day for the Alonardo family and friends. It will be a true honor to wear the initials “TA” on our helmets this season.
The Beacs and I can’t wait to get the season started next week. We’ve been training hard since September 7th on and off the ice and we couldn’t be more ready for our season opener at William Smith. It’s been a long, tough preseason and we have definitely had to remind ourselves a few times why we’re in the weight room for 2 hours every day, but we know it’s going to pay off in the long run. Supporting and participating in these organizations and fundraisers reminds us all of why we play in the first place. There are so many people that support us and we want to be able to give our time back to the people who need our support. This season, we are going to keep in mind that every time we step on the ice, we are playing for something bigger than ourselves.