As my wife likes to remind me, I tend to get a bit dramatic… I suppose I could have included this information in my earlier post this evening, but I really do think it deserves a post of its own.
After Micah passed, while struggling with my initial grief and loss, I started thinking about ways I could make something meaningful out of all this. Sure, I could donate his smelly, used goalie gear to someone–no, I really couldn’t. There are things of Micah’s that still mean too much to me, and I’m not willing to let go of them yet, as silly as that possessiveness may be.
A few different people suggested ways to memorialize Micah in an ongoing, relevant manner. The word “foundation” got stuck in my head (for a couple different reasons–but I’ll save that for a future post). The 37 Foundation just popped as a name. I already had ideas for what I wanted this foundation in Micah’s honor and memory to accomplish.
On the quick, simple end, I want to create scholarships for youth goalies to help make the sport of hockey–and the position of goaltender–more accessible to more kids. Hockey is not a cheap sport. A season of house-level hockey? Easily over $1,000 including gear (and, if we’re talking about a goalie–even with closeout or used gear, very easily over $1,500). Travel hockey–between fees, gear, travel expenses, and other unforeseen costs, could easily top $7-10,000 per season for a young goalie. So I thought–what if I could find a way to give a couple kids a couple thousand dollar scholarship to help cover their fees? Then my mind started to wander again…and the ideas became bigger:
- What if I could get equipment manufacturers (Bauer? CCM? Reebok? Brian’s? Vaughn?) to contribute as well–each kid getting a scholarship maybe gets a free pair of leg pads, or chest protector, or blocker and catcher–provided by a sponsoring company?
- Getting fees paid and maybe some gear would be great–but what about the most overlooked aspect of youth goaltending? Coaching. Most Arizona organizations pay basic lip service to goalie coaching, if they do anything at all. Want some more intensive training than a few tips from your coach and lots of pucks shot at you? Well, you’ll have to go pay a private goalie coach $75-150/hr (and often find the ice to have them coach you on). You’ll have to lay out $600-1500/week (plus room, board and travel expenses if out of town) for goalie camps. So–I want the 37 Foundation to host inexpensive goalie clinics and camps that attract quality goalie coaches and let kids get solid instruction at costs that will not cancel family vacations, be a four-year advance on their Bar Mitzvah presents, or just keep them out of hockey during the summer for lack of funds.
- Real pie in the sky? I want to be able to lobby the Arizona youth hockey community to follow the lead of places like the Chicago area, where goalies often pay significantly reduced contract fee so they will have money available for goalie instruction, equipment, and other things that skaters don’t need to worry as much about. Think about it. How many youth travel hockey teams have an offensive coach/assistant coach and a defensive coach/assistant coach? Most. Now, how many have a dedicated goalie coach on staff? Almost none. Sure, some programs have a single goalie coach that makes his/her way around to work with the goalies from time to time, but how many teams have a full-time goalie coach? When you think about it, goalies pay the same fees as the other kids, but for their money they typically get to be on-ice targets. They provide a valuable service for practices–and pay for the honor of doing so. It’s time that we recognize that goalies are forced to get most of their instruction at their own cost, and often on their own time, and cut them (and their families) some slack to let them do that.
So, I have a direction to go. Thanks to the generosity of this wonderful hockey community, I have some funds to seed this foundation with. Then along came the Arizona Coyotes… The Coyotes, and specifically the Coyotes head of youth hockey development (and Arizona Lady Coyotes and now ASU Sun Devils Women’s ACHA assistant coach) Matt Shott approached me with incredible interest in helping do something memorable and ongoing with me in Micah’s name. I won’t divulge all the goodies right now…just watch for more details over the next couple months.
With ideas and lots of support, I strolled over to the Arizona Corporation Commission website and paid to register “37 Foundation” name as a potential Arizona non-profit organization. Done. Later this week, I will be filing paperwork with the Arizona Corporation Commission to officially form the “37 Foundation” as an Arizona non-profit organization. Heck–I even set up a domain name, which will eventually include a website about what we plan to do, and how others can take part. Feel free to email me at David.Lieb@37foundation.org just to try it out. (Right now, it’s just set up with an email address…) If anyone out there would like to help me design the website, give me a shout. 🙂
From an idea in my hazy, grieving mind six weeks ago, the 37 Foundation will soon be a real living, breathing thing. My hope is that by the time parents start trying to figure out how they’re going to pay for their kids to play hockey–and specifically goalie–this summer, there will be at least two scholarships available to make those calculations just a little easier.