Hockey fans, take a bow, dab, break out into a happy dance, or do whatever makes you feel good.
Your kindness and generosity upon reading about the plight of the Tucker Road Ducks, a predominantly black Maryland youth team plunged into hockey homelessness after a two-alarm fire severely damaged its rink in January, helped the team exceed its GoFundMe goal of raising $10,000.
Caring fans donated $10,130 as of Monday. The money will be used to help the Prince George’s County, Maryland, hockey team pay for ice rental time at rinks in the Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia area until the Tucker Road Ice Rink is repaired or rebuilt.
The team is still accepting donations in anticipation of having to rent ice time away from home during the 2017-18 hockey season.
“We were only at maybe a little over $2,000 before the blog,” Koi Hamm, the secretary/treasurer of the nonprofit Tucker Road Parents Hockey Organization told me. “We’re just so excited. A few donations, people put their names so we had the kids sign cards just because we want them (donors) to know that we appreciate it.”
People donated what they could – $5, $10, $30 a pop. Some big checks came, too. The Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals contributed $5,300. The Ducks also received an anonymous donation of $1,500.
“We are extremely grateful to the Washington Capitals and Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation for helping us exceed our fundraising goal,” said Tucker Road Parent Hockey Organization President Alexandria Briggs-Blake. “The generous support we have received from our community, other organizations and people from around the country, means that the Ducks Ice Hockey Team will be able to afford precious ice time at other rinks while Tucker Road is closed for repairs.”
The Ducks are also hoping for an outpouring of support in the the Kraft Hockeyville “For the Love of Hockey” contest, urging folks to go online and nominate their rink to receive $150,000 in upgrades and an NHL preseason game.
Meanwhile, the Ducks rink misfortune has brought some much-needed major media attention to their plight.
“That blog post actually had people calling us from ESPN, FOX 5,” Ducks Coach Rahman-Rahim “Coach Rock” B’ath told me. “That blog put us above and beyond on everything that we needed, and we fully appreciate it.”
Coach Rock was interviewed by ESPN News on Friday and a crew from Washington’s WTTG, FOX 5, attended the Ducks’ game Saturday night at the Herbert Wells Ice Rink in College Park, Maryland. A segment about the team should air on the station in a couple of weeks.
“People are interested, the word is out, and I’m really glad about that,” Hamm said. “I think this will help push them in not dragging their feet in doing the repairs for with rink. It’s going to be a tremendous help because now I think we’ll get a lot of traction in making sure that they don’t put it on the back-burner. We don’t want this to take five years to rebuild.”
The Ducks players, parents, and coaches have vowed to keep the unique program – which makes hockey accessible to minority and low-income families by providing players with free equipment and charging only $200 in team fees annually – alive despite the devastating blaze closing its home barn for what’s likely to be a long time.
Officials from Prince George’s County and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission met with concerned patrons of the badly damaged rink last week, Hamm said. The county has put a Tucker Road Ice Rink update page on the Prince George’s parks website.
“They showed us pictures of the rink – there’s a lot of structural damage,” Hamm said. “The’re still awaiting the engineering report to really determine how much damage. But there’s damage to the roof, to the beams. I don’t anticipate the rink being open any time soon.”
She said officials are “looking at solutions for us to have some type of ice team closer to our home rink.”
Since the blaze, the Ducks have been embraced by the Washington-area hockey community, with teams offering to share practice ice team and set up games.
But there’s no place like home, and the Ducks players and parents can’t wait to return to theirs.
“We’re hopeful because they do say they want to make Tucker Road better than what it was,” Hamm said. “But the children are just devastated that they can’t go to their home rink – they got so much ice time there. We just want our rink back.”