The Indy Fuel, Indianapolis’ new minor league professional hockey team, is getting behind youth hockey in a big way.
The team recently pledged all money from its in-game fundraising (raffles and other promotions) for its first five seasons at the Fairgrounds Coliseum to support area youth hockey leagues. The goal is to raise $500,000 for youth programs in the first five years, with the ultimate goal of doubling participation across central Indiana.
“In bringing professional hockey back to Indianapolis, we started with the confidence that we could build and sustain a successful team,” said Sean Hallett, the Fuel’s President & CEO. “But we also wanted to leave a civic legacy, to help kids stay active, have fun and develop a lifelong love of this great sport.
“Youth hockey has already grown tremendously across central Indiana,” Hallett added. “It’s one reason we knew we could build a strong fan base for the Fuel. We want to help these grassroots organizations bring ice hockey to even more young Hoosiers … we’re investing financial and organizational resources, and we’re very fortunate to have a dedicated volunteer like Judi Kremer willing to invest her own time and energy.”
The team recently named long-time hockey organizer Judi Kremer as its full-time youth hockey ambassador to help launch the fund-raising initiative.
The Fuel’s fundraising efforts will support collaboration among the youth hockey associations and coordinated initiatives to expand participation and promote the fitness and personal development benefits of ice hockey. The emphasis will be on entry-level “learning to play” activities, Hallett said, as well as providing more opportunities for groups that may not otherwise be able to access or afford hockey programs.
“Our goal is doubling participation in recreational and developmental youth hockey in central Indiana over the next decade,” said Kevin Grau, Coliseum Youth Hockey League president. “It’s ambitious, but with the generosity and commitment of the Fuel, it’s very reachable.”
Kremer has more than 20 years of experience working with and helping lead youth hockey associations in Reading, Pennsylvania and in central Indiana as she watched both of her sons progress through various levels of the sport.
“Hockey has been an important part of my life for well over 20 years, and I know first-hand the positive impact the sport has on children and families—including mine,” said Kremer, a native of upstate New York. “As a fan, I was thrilled to see professional hockey come back to the Indiana Fairgrounds. But as a volunteer and a parent, I’m even more pleased that the Fuel organization truly cares about growing the sport in the next generation.”
The Fuel will compete in the ECHL, formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League, one of two minor leagues for the National Hockey League. Based in Princeton, N.J., the 26-year-old ECHL has more than 20 teams in cities across the United States, including Fort Wayne, Evansville, Cincinnati, Toledo and Kalamazoo. The Fuel will begin its inaugural season in October.