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.
Jim Sedin and Don Whiston are 60-plus years removed from their time with the 1952 United States Olympic Ice Hockey Team, a group that won the silver medal in Oslo, Norway. Both men are now in their 80s, and while some memories fade with age, the vivid ones remain.
Sedin remembers scoring the tying goal against Canada in the team’s final round-robin contest. With no knockout stage in those days of Olympic competition, his equalizer secured the silver for Team USA.
As for Whiston, the pomp-and-circumstance commencement of the Olympics still stands out in his mind.
“The opening parade was exciting,” Whiston recalls. “There’s no question about that.”
A former netminder at Brown University, Whiston remembers the U.S. Olympic Committee budgeting roughly $13,000 to cover the team’s expenses in the Olympic village. The sum would have left more than a few bills unpaid, so over the course of three months prior to the Olympic Games, the team traveled throughout Europe, playing 50-plus games to fund their trip with gate receipts.
When the Olympics began, Whiston played in the team’s first game against host Norway, and it’s a memory that lingers with the 87-year-old.
“You can imagine what that was like,” he said. “Standing on the ice and hearing the Star Bangled Banner was enough to give you goosebumps. I think the only time I was more excited was when my children were born.”
Growing up in New England, Whiston didn’t try playing between the pipes until his junior year of high school when he transferred from a Catholic school to a public school.
“I could skate like mad, though,” Whiston says of his time as a player.
His father and uncle had both played goaltender – and a future son would eventually play at Harvard University – so it was only fitting that Whiston continued in net. He might be best known for being the first college netminder to don a facemask.
“I guess I had the genes. The position came very easily to me,” said Whiston, who eventually worked in investment banking for 40 years following the Olympics.
The recent Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame inductee doesn’t play much anymore but stays connected to the game by following his young grandson who plays in Colorado. He’ll also be releasing a book soon, focused on his Olympic experience overseas. Even after shoulder- and hip- replacement surgeries and two major back operations, Whiston still works out every day with his two personal trainers and makes time for a weekly appointment with a masseuse.
Like Whiston, Sedin also endured hip surgery, about three months ago, which now results in regular physical therapy sessions.
After participating in the Olympic Games, Sedin contemplated juggling hockey and graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but after more deliberation, he opted for the California Institute of Technology instead.
“I thought that, ‘God, if I go out and start playing semi-pro hockey or professional hockey and try to go graduate school at MIT, I’m not going to make it.’ So I decided to go to Cal Tech,” said Sedin, who concentrated his time in business management and investments in the 1980s after an engineering career.
Pick-up hockey lasted until about 35, followed by a 10-year hiatus. Then came Sedin’s yearly participation in the Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament, an annual event created by Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schultz for players 40 and up. The 84-year-old Sedin finally stopped playing six years ago, but attempted a comeback on the ice last winter. Despite a strong passion for the game, sometimes the body can’t do what it once did, as the current Sun Valley, Idaho, resident discovered.
“It was just too discouraging,” Sedin said. “I just couldn’t do what I thought I should have been able to do. I may be done now.”
And while the curtain may finally be closing on his hockey-playing days, Sedin, like Whiston, can look back proudly on an epic career highlighted by silver in Oslo and a lifetime of great memories.