The Kids on Ice Endowment Fund was started by the Chippewa Youth Hockey Association (CYHA) board after a great benefactor, Tom Mason, decided to plan for his legacy and the future of the hockey association. Tom saw the benefit of having a family-oriented facility which benefited the athletic activities of the children and provided a safe place to play hockey for the youth of the Chippewa Valley. Tom was a big promotor of our motto: "A kid on ice is rarely in hot water".
Our Association is one of only a few nationwide that are totally built, funded and operated by its volunteer parents. While most area hockey and figure skating programs are dwindling in numbers, CYHA's skating programs are expanding. Our free public open skate programs (indoor and outdoor) are a huge success and we receive NO public or municipal funding to offer these programs. It is estimated that teams and spectators visiting the rink provide an annual economic impact for the Chippewa Valley of over $500,000.
The Endowment goals are to continue to provide a safe and secure environment for the skaters to practice and play games and to keep hockey and figure skating affordable for families.
I was born and raised in Chippewa Falls and played outdoor hockey until the North Rink was constructed during my junior year in high school. I was always a hockey fan and I became a Minnesota Wild season ticket holder two years before the first game. On opening night my wife and I took our daughter to the game and many games thereafter. When my daughter was five she asked if she could play hockey. I said no. Age six, same question, same answer. When she turned seven, I said yes so she could try it, quit, and get it out of her system because I vowed never to be "one of those crazy hockey parents".
It wasn't until after she played for a few years when I began to see the big picture of how hockey benefits the players, parents and families. The life lessons my children were taught: winning with grace, losing with dignity, working together as a team, being a good teammate, setting and achieving goals, and the value of hard work, are qualities which will make my children successful in their adult life and careers. Hockey has indirectly taught them a lot about life and how to be successful.
The friendships my wife and I have made over the 17 plus years will last our lifetime. Most of our closest friends are hockey parents. Nowhere else can you go to an athletic venue to coach an 11-year-old with a 5-year-old tagging along, go on the ice and not worry about your 5-year-old as there were always 30 sets of eyes watching him while I was on the ice. Hockey parents take care of our own.
The greatest joy I get from hockey is seeing the youth I have coached over the years become great high school athletes and successful adults. They always take the time to say hi and speak to me when we run into each other. Hockey has been a gift to my family and me.
Written by: Steve Gibbs
Distributions support the charitable purposes of the hockey association.