A Veteran Beer League Comeback

The 2020 pandemic hit the hockey community hard, and US veterans even harder.

Recreational hockey seasons (called Sessions) in the Dallas/Ft. Worth region were completely frozen with the initial COVID-19 lock-down. The remaining games were later hurriedly scheduled for completion only after area ice rinks began letting players back in. Showers, water dispensers, drinking fountains and social areas had also been closed in some locations, and are still unavailable as of the writing of this article.

“More than half of the veterans surveyed by the Wounded Warrior Project said that their mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic.”

NBC News’ Cynthia McFadden [source]

Teams like the Dallas Warriors, who rely on public and corporate donations to attend regional and national tournaments, were deeply affected by the pandemic as opportunities to partake in national events fell off the calendar. Another thing that fell to the wayside was the corporate funding required to keep the veterans on the ice.

Those veteran groups who are in the habit of training new skaters (such as the Dallas Warriors) sought other options, like bi-weekly coaching for skating fundamentals, team drills and physical fitness. It would not be a stretch to say the veterans who take advantage of these opportunities greatly benefit from the social interaction with their Brothers-and-Sisters of Service.

Once ice rinks reopened, some veteran hockey clubs started, or continued, fielding beer-league teams. Participation in these teams cost the average player several hundred dollars per 12-week session, but gives back in practical way, such as granting game-time to practice the skills they have been fostering.

Dallas Warriors Hockey
Growing the Sport and Touching Lives One Veteran at a Time

One team in particular, the Dallas Warriors ‘E’, an entry-level-league team playing out of Farmers Branch, Texas, had two first-time hockey players during their 2020-2021 Winter session. Watching these players grow in confidence and strength has been a real joy for those who give of their time to these vets.

Post-game locker room chatter is filled with statements like “This is the most fun I’ve ever had”, and “OMG, this game is amazing! I’ll never stop playing for as long as I am able.”

Growing the sport of hockey starts locally, and not just with young people. Sharing your enthusiasm and passion for the game is the most effective way to fan the flames of ice hockey amongst your veteran friends.

There are tools available to help you encourage the veterans in your life. Here in North Texas, there is often some form of jumpstart classes, such as the Dallas Stars Adult Rookie program, which is generally available for a free 5-week class to help get new skaters and hockey players started. Loaner equipment is included, and the classes are on Saturdays! https://www.nhl.com/stars/starcenters/adult-rookies…

This type of course isn’t required to SIGN UP to be a Dallas Warrior – If your application is accepted, the Dallas Warriors will assist you with equipment, ice-time, practices and games, so head over to dallaswarriorshockey.com and sign-up today!

While the pandemic can put a halt to businesses and our ability to explore the world around us, it doesn’t end to the need of our veterans to feel a part of a community, and cannot stop those of us who care about our vets from helping to meet that need.

The Way Back Machine – Dallas Stars Puck Drop

Today we are looking back an entire year before COVID-19 left us wondering when we’d get to play hockey again, to an event which helped to raise awareness for injured and disabled veterans in North Texas, and elsewhere.

The year was 2019, and our own Dallas Warriors member Russ Lusk was invited to the American Airlines Center for a ceremonial puck drop before the Dallas Stars faced off against the New York Rangers.

In addition to this honor, the Warriors were also able to raise money from raffle sales and jersey auctions.

“The camaraderie, the relationships, the things that we miss from being on active duty. You don’t realize just how important those relationships are and how much we need them post service,”

March 5, 2019 NBCDFW
https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/dallas-stars-pay-tribute-to-team-of-veterans/5127/

To read the article, or watch the video from NBC 5 DFW, head over here or watch the embedded video below.

Warrior Focus – Ryan Young

“I have always had a knack for planning events/ parties, so I thought my skills could be best put to use for the Warriors Organization in this role. Since joining the team, I have quickly found a sense of camaraderie and ease fitting in that has helped me personally in numerous ways, so the least I can do is give back to the team by helping it to succeed both on and off the ice.”

Ryan Young served 11 years in the US Army Reserves, including 2 deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003, 2004-2005).

Ryan loved it so much, he headed back again in 2009 as a contractor in support of the MRAP – Caiman program for BAE Systems.

Ryan is from a family of warriors: His Grand Father and Father were both retired USAF officers, the former a Major in Radio / TV and Film, and the latter a Lieutenant Colonel and B-52 pilot.

Ryan was accepted into the Warrant Officer program in 2007 but due to a torn ACL, that was put on hold and instead he began his civilian career in 2011.

Ryan has interests in Hockey and Baseball, music (concerts, festivals and collecting vinyl) and a passion for fostering furry friends.

Ryan has gone all-in with the Dallas Warriors, filling board positions in Events and PR, and more recently, picked up the mantle of VP of Operations.

We have all been blessed by Ryan’s inclusion to the Dallas Warriors leadership team, and his contributions always awe us. Welcome Ryan!

Webmaster’s Pontifications for March 2021

As part of the position I am assuming in the office of Webmaster / Social Media coordinator for the Dallas Warriors, I am required to assist in tasks which are comfortable for an introverted techie like myself: Migrating website hosting, DNS and domain management, email server set-up, designing custom graphics and video for our team(s), creating a website, documenting technical debt and a vast amount of information passed on from the last office holder.

There are also some tasks which are decidedly NOT comfortable for a introvert, such as monitoring, creating and engaging in social media posts. Fortunately, we have an amazing team of individuals who have skills and passions that span across the introvert / extrovert spectrum, and they have been great in helping me serve our organization.