Off-Season 101: Building a Community
The time has come again for another installment of Off-Season 101. This week, we look at how the team is integrated into the community once they arrive in Topeka. So lean forward and get your notes ready, school is back in session.
When the ice is finally back in place and the sounds of slashing skates fill the air, you know the calendar has flipped to August and another season is about to begin. Players start arriving, some new and some old, and begin acclimating to life in Topeka. While they are in “Training Camp”, the coaches and staff work aggressively to build the players into a team. Behind the scenes, the RoadRunners staff work with the players to mold them into active citizens in the community that supports them. The RoadRunners commitment to success is not defined by an accounting of wins, losses, trophies, or banners. We want to build team players that will embody our Mission and Values. We want to develop young men of good character, with a healthy work ethic, that are community minded.
TEAMING WITH YOUTH HOCKEY
One of the team’s initiatives has been the partnership with Topeka Youth Hockey. The partnership started off as a fund raiser opportunity for the youth organization, and has grown into an incredible opportunity for the players to teach and mentor these up-and-coming young hockey players.
TEAMING WITH THE SCHOOLS
‘Reading with the RoadRunners’, a program designed to stress the importance of literacy, is in its 7th year. Every week, players visit local elementary schools and read to the students. . After the stories are read, the children and players bond during question and answer sessions that sometime involve hockey and other times involve how many dinosaurs could fit in one’s backyard. And at the end of the day, the team learns as much from the experience as the students, gaining valuable experience in public speaking and childhood education.
The health and fitness program “Get Fit With the ‘Runners” works with children in afterschool programs. The athletes are able to provide education on the importance of good nutrition and regular exercise.
TEAMING WITH THE COMMUNITY
Throughout the season, the players take part in numerous projects within the community. From partnering with Topeka Habitat for Humanity to work on a house, to visiting patients at the hospital during the holidays, helping to raise money for the United Way, collecting teddy bears for Topeka Rescue Mission, the team is involved in a multitude of worthwhile projects. But as much as players contribute to the community activities, they also devote extra time and effort to projects of their own. Spending time bonding with their Billet Families and helping around the house, getting a job in order to make some extra cash, finishing up high school or taking college classes or raising money individually for a charitable cause of their choice. All of this hard work in the community combined with lessons learned on the ice make the RoadRunners not just a collection of hockey players but a growing network. A family. A team.
Off-Season 101 will return next week with an inside look at the lifeblood of any sports franchise: Sponsorships. Until then, Go Runners!!!