With the $3 million needed to save UAA hockey still far away, organizers continue to look for money in ways large and small.
A silent auction with items ranging from an autographed Jaromir Jagr jersey to a bear-viewing trip in Kodiak hopes to bring in $50,000 next month, an ongoing split-the-pot raffle is nearly at $20,000, and an upcoming outdoor youth hockey clinic and UAA-UAF alumni game should add a few more thousand dollars.
With less than two months to raise $3 million spare the hockey team from extinction, the Save Seawolf Hockey fundraising group has collected $1.1 million in cash donations and pledges, chairwoman Kathie Bethard said Tuesday.
”We need a lot more money for the short amount of time that we have,” she said. “We’re up to the task. We’re putting the pedal to the medal and making some big pushes.”
Absent a big donor who comes to the team’s rescue, every dollar makes a difference, Bethard said. That’s a message supporters want the public to hear — especially members of the public with hockey-playing kids.
Bethard said saving UAA hockey will preserve the high quality of youth hockey in Anchorage, where many youth coaches either played UAA hockey or were coached by UAA alumni.
“The future hockey athletes are getting fresh coaches, new coaches, out of the ranks of the UAA Seawolves,” she said. “If that goes away, youth hockey is going to take a big hit. It may not be next year or the year after that, but in 10 years people are going to realize it — the reason their kids are playing at the level they are is because of UAA hockey.”
The virtual silent auction should go live Jan. 6, said Joe Stallone, who has collected about 60 items to sell.
The Jagr jersey is a sweater from Kladno, the professional team Jagr owns and sometimes plays for in the Czech Republic. Stallone said Martin Bakula, a former UAA player and coach who is also from the Czech Republic, helped the jersey make its way to Anchorage.
The jersey is probably the biggest piece of hockey memorabilia up for sale, but there’s lots more, Stallone said.
“We have game-worn jerseys, some replica jerseys, and I’m donating a bunch of (autographed) pictures,” he said.
Beyond the hockey stuff, there’s a seafood pack from 10th & M Seafoods, a few tourist packages and some restaurant gift cards up for grabs, Stallone said. He’s still collecting items — “It doesn’t matter what it is,” he said — and he can be contacted through the Save Seawolf Hockey website.
The hockey team is one of three athletic programs that will be eliminated after this school year unless any can raise two years’ of operating costs, which then earns them a shot at reinstatement by the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents.
The alpine ski team just met its goal of $628,000, but the hockey team and gymnastics team (which needs $880,000) are still in limbo.
“We’re down to the homestretch,” third-year hockey coach Matt Curley said, and then he sighed. “I am forever hopeful, I guess. I tell you all the time I love it up here and want to make this work. Hopefully we get that opportunity. Seeing the ski team hit their goal ... maybe that will build some momentum for us perhaps, and put a little more pressure on the Board of Regents.”
Even if the hockey team comes up short of $3 million, Curley hopes coming close to the goal will convince the regents the program has the support of the public. Donations have come from about 1,000 people and groups, he said.
“I have to believe this — and this could be wishful thinking or pie-in-the-sky thinking — but I do believe $1.5 or $1.8 or $2.1 million, if we are able to raise that type of money during a pandemic and if we have a list of names who donated, whether it was $10 or $10,000, I have to believe that carries weight.”