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Pennsylvania Claims "Paint America" Gold

01/08/2014, 4:00pm MST

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Pennsylvania is the gold-medal state it was announced today by The USA Hockey Foundation in wrapping up its “Paint America Red, White and Blue” fundraising campaign that spanned the month of December.
The Keystone State's 32 donations led the nation, thus giving it the gold-medal designation. Michigan was not far behind with 27 donors and Massachusetts finished third with 24 donations. Contributions also came from newer hockey markets, including Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina. In total, some 300 people took part with more than $40,000 raised to benefit the continued advancement of hockey in the United States.
“We couldn’t be more thankful to those that participated in this very first Paint America Red, White and Blue campaign,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey and The USA Hockey Foundation. “The contributions received will help further opportunities in the sport at all levels and we are so appreciative of every single gift.”
The USA Hockey Foundation supports USA Hockey efforts that provide opportunities to disabled and disadvantaged youth; help increase participation through a variety of initiatives; enhance the safety of the game; help the U.S. be the best internationally; provide education programs for athletes, coaches, officials and parents; and celebrate the game through commemoration.

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From the Bench to the Booth, Mleczko Makes a Difference

03/19/2014, 10:45am MDT
By Pat Sullivan

While there have been plenty of United States Olympians who’ve embodied the “Got Milk?”-like wholesome symbolism of success over the years, A.J. (Mleczko) Griswold, gold medalist in 1998 and silver medalist in 2002, may top them all. The Nantucket, Mass., native’s credentials border on unassailable.

In 1999 alone, she won a national championship with the Harvard University women’s hockey team, she was selected First Team All-America, she earned the second-ever Patty Kazmaier Award and she claimed Bob Allen Women's Player of the Year honors. She is also a member of two halls of fame: The New England Women's Sports Hall of Fame (2002) and the Women's Beanpot Hall of Fame (2011).

One could convincingly argue that the self-actualization box has been checked.

USA Hockey caught up with Griswold at her Concord, Mass., home recently, where she had just returned from her third Olympics as a hockey broadcaster for NBC Sports. Reflecting on her transition to the media, she said, “It was very different. I had played in two Olympics, retired and started a family. Like anyone entering the field, I had to audition, which was scary, and then take on a steep learning curve. I was seven months pregnant when I first went on the air for the network in Torino.”

As for the contrast between playing a game and communicating a game’s happenings to viewers, Griswold said, “Initially, it was hard to watch and not be involved. It was a new challenge though, to look at hockey in an analytical way, and entirely different to watch a game and form opinions. Furthermore, you have to be impartial. In spite of playing with many of the (Team USA) women on the ice, I noticed it was not as hard to be unbiased.”

She also added, perhaps surprisingly, that “you have more free time as an athlete.” As a broadcaster (at any Olympics), Griswold regularly preps for, and calls, two to three games a day.

When it came to the alleged, Twitter-fueled mishaps in Sochi, Griswold was quick to debunk them.

“I didn’t have the experience (as an employee of NBC Sports) of a typical attendee, but I can tell you my hotel was great and the weather was great. While the four previous host sites spread the Olympics around the respective cities, there was an Olympic Park with beautiful, state-of-the art facilities in Sochi. I ate my meals at the NBC Commissary, where American food was served.”

The byproduct of such a layout, however, was that “I didn’t feel like I was in Russia.”

When asked how she stays close to the game and USA Hockey, the mother of four with husband, Jason, was excited to mention that she is an athlete director with USA Hockey and also a board member with the USA Hockey Foundation.

It’s in coaching though, often times with Jason, a hockey player himself and a lacrosse player in college at Colgate University, that she feels is the best way to stay involved and keep learning.

“Coaching kids, including our own, is the best way to give back, to share your expertise,” she said. “It’s at the grassroots level where you make a real difference.”

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Developing the Next CEOs

06/16/2014, 10:30am MDT
By Aaron Paitich

Circle of Champions member, United States Olympian and retired CEO Mark Fusco shares the secrets to his success, on and off the ice

Does hockey train our youth to become future CEOs? Mark Fusco thinks so. As a retired CEO and United States Olympian, he would know.

“Running a business can be very difficult, depending on how big it is and how complicated it is,” says Fusco, who retired from his most recent CEO post at Aspen Technology last September. “You have all sorts of different constituent groups that you’re dealing with, but hockey is the same. You’re part of a team. You’re building a future for the championship or to try and win your games.”

Fusco, a 1984 U.S. Olympian, still holds multiple Harvard scoring records for defensemen. After suiting up for 80 NHL games with the Hartford Whalers, Fusco retired one professional career in pursuit of another. The proud Crimson alum returned to his alma mater, this time enrolling in the prestigious Harvard Business School. He then earned his first CEO position.

He has found success on the ice and in the office. Whether you’re putting on a jersey or a suit and tie, Fusco says, the cultures of successful businesses and hockey teams are very much the same.

“It’s a competitive environment, at least in my experience,” says Fusco who, in 1983, became the first defenseman to win the Hobey Baker Award. “You try to build a team and try to mold them. You’re playing every day to win, not only in the short-term, but in the long-term. The perseverance that it takes to be a good hockey player – I think it’s the same as trying to do something in the business world that is difficult and complicated. It’s not the same skill set, but it’s certainly the same perseverance and wanting to win.”

It’s those life lessons and development that have kept Fusco connected to USA Hockey. He not only follows the organization, but also continues to contribute financially to the USA Hockey Foundation’s charitable efforts.

Donors to The USA Hockey Foundation who have contributed $1,000 or more during the fiscal year (starting Sept. 1) are recognized for their gifts with membership to the Circle of Champions. These donations provide more and more kids the opportunity to play, learn and love the game of hockey.

“Mark recognizes the importance that USA Hockey has played in his career and his life,” says USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean. “He has not only dedicated time to growing and strengthening hockey, but he has also dedicated money by becoming a member of The USA Hockey Foundation’s Circle of Champions giving club. We hope to double the number of members in this club by encompassing more USA Hockey alumni.”

Fusco now has two other specific reasons to invest in USA Hockey: he’s coaching his sons’ peewee and bantam teams in Massachusetts. But his main focus is to help kids who may not be able to afford it.

“Anybody who gets to play hockey is changed forever – for the better,” says Fusco, who also owns a local club team and a rink with his brother, Scott Fusco, who was also a 1984 U.S. Olympian. “I’d like to see more kids get an opportunity to play. That’s why I’m interested in what USA Hockey’s doing. That’s why I’m interested in The USA Hockey Foundation. I’m interested in giving kids the opportunity to play when maybe they couldn’t have because of their personal financial situation. I think hockey is a great game to get people involved in. The more, the better.”

Outside of his Circle of Champions giving, Mark helped spearhead another initiative to get more kids on the ice. The Aspen Tech Grant was established in 2007 to help cover registration fees for kids in the northwestern Boston suburbs. This year, 16 kids received the Aspen Tech Grant.

“There’s nothing like a little kid on the rink with a smile on his face,” adds Fusco, who was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002. “It’s intoxicating. Kids that get exposed to hockey – they all want to play. It’s the most fun game of any.”

And the lessons provided by the game are invaluable. That’s why Fusco is giving his time and money to provide these experiences to more kids.

“There are a lot of parallels between hockey and being successful in life,” says Fusco. “You’re playing through your good days and your bad days. Everybody has them. Hockey is a great learning ground for life – and I want to share that.”


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