Recently, the Watertown Youth Hockey community came together for their annual fundraiser, and also paid tribute to a hockey mom who recently lost her battle with cancer.
The Skate-a-thon took place on Feb. 14 at John A. Ryan Arena. During the event, young hockey players did 50 turns around the ice. First, the youngest children took the ice, the Mites and the members of the Learn to Skate program, and the older players, on the Squirts and Peewees teams, completed the night. In between, however, the mothers laced up their skates and circled the ice several times in memory of their friend, Jami Curley.
Another hockey mom, Lindsay Mosca, remembered her friend.
“She was an all the way into hockey mom. We all knew her really well, and it’s really hard that she’s gone,” Mosca said. “We wanted to do something for her this year because she would have been so excited (about the Skate-a-thon).”
Curley passed away in January, leaving behind her husband Chris and sons Colin and Jack, said Watertown Youth Hockey President Jason Tourville. Along with being involved in youth sports, Curley worked as Hosmer Elementary School’s building substitute.
“She was a cherished member of the hockey program. She coordinated the Skate-a-thon last season,” Tourville said.
Colin and Jack joined 17 hockey moms for the lap of honor. As they made their way around the rink, the moms and Colin and Jack waved and gave high fives to people leaning over the boards.
The Youth Hockey community has rallied around the Curleys, Mosca said, with people providing rides and meals. Money has also been raised in an online fundraising campaign (click here to see the page).
Before the Skate-a-thon, members of Watertown Youth Hockey used to “go and beg people for money,” Tourville said. The evening is not just about bringing in donations, he said.
“It gets everybody here,” Tourville said. “It’s a nice way to get the families of the younger kids to get to know some of the older families.”
These days, the program skews on the younger side, he said.
“From 8 (years old) and down our numbers are way up over what they have been for years,” Tourville said. “We have a lot of new people involved so it is exciting.”
The bigger size also means more costs. Watertown used to rent ice at the same time as other programs, such as Belmont and Newton, to save money. Now, however, Watertown has enough skaters to fill the ice by itself. An hour of ice time runs about $240, Tourville said.
The program has also bolstered its offerings by adding professional skating and skills coaches, and other features.
“There are a lot of other options for hockey — club teams, private teams — and we are trying to match what they can offer,” Tourville said.
The Skate-a-thon raised about $11,000 this year, Tourville said, with a few more donations coming in. The money will be used to keep down the cost to play youth hockey in town.
The program also got donations from local businesses — Gigi’s Pizza Co. and Quebrada Baking Co. — to help the fundraising effort.