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Anna Culley Does it All in Fairbanks

By Mike Scandura - Special to USA Hockey, 11/02/16, 5:00PM MDT

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Longtime volunteer a vital part of Alaska hockey community

As part of USA Hockey's 80th Anniversary, we will shine a spotlight on the countless volunteers and instructors who spend time "Behind the Glass" to help our sport grow.

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Anna Marie Culley has never played hockey and never coached the sport. That about ends the list of things she hasn’t done in hockey.

Ever since she became affiliated with the Fairbanks Amateur Hockey Association, she’s held at one time or another so many positions that they would extend from one end of the ice to the other.

“My son [Tim] was five and I started attending board meetings,” said Culley. “In March of 2004 I became the Spring League Director.

“I’ve been involved with the association ever since then at the board level.”

In addition to serving as FAHA’s secretary and a member of the executive and finance committee, Culley also is the House League vice-president and the Tier III and Tier IV vice-president.

Among other FAHA positions Culley holds or has held are the following:

  • Equipment manager
  • Concession manager
  • Treasurer
  • 8U, 10U and 18U Division director
  • Vice-president of Competition for the (Tier I and II) Northern Knights
  • Secretary of the Competition Committee
  • Coach Selection Committee member
  • Christmas Tournament Director
  • Tournament Director for FairbanksFest
  • Try-Hockey-for-Free Coordinator
  • Alaska State Hockey Association board representative for FAHA

At the state level, she’s the vice-president of recreational hockey.

“With this position I lead a committee of representatives from each hockey organization in Alaska that has a recreational program,” Culley said. “Together we’re able to influence decisions made for the best interests of recreational hockey.”

And she also holds a full-time job.

“We got a notice from the association that its budget fell short and we owed more money but that was fine with me,” Culley said. “I joined the board because I wanted to know how the association ran. I wanted to know what was involved.

“I was curious.”

Curiosity also led Culley to become involved with the Hockey Week in Fairbanks Hockey Extravaganza.

“In 2012, Becky Williams and Randy Zarnke approached me about helping with Hockey Week in Fairbanks Hockey Extravaganza,” said Culley. “I shadowed Becky in 2012 and 2013 and became the coordinator of that event. With this event, we rely completely on the giving nature of others in our community to help run the booths.

“It’s a humbling experience to realize there are so many people in Fairbanks that are always willing to give a hand with events when needed. I enjoy the opportunity to work with Randy every year.”

Then, in 2015, Zarnke again approached Culley.

“In 2015, Randy asked me to start taking a more active role in Hockey Week in Fairbanks activities,” said Culley. “I’m learning more each year about the work it takes to put on the series of events honoring hockey in Fairbanks.

“I’m excited to continue to learn all I can.”

In some ways, the ball really started rolling in 2013 when Culley volunteered to serve on the 2014 Arctic Winter Games Hockey Committee.

“I was the committee secretary,” said Culley. “In August of 2013, the Chair for Hockey was transferred out of town for work and I was given the opportunity to be the Chair. What a great opportunity that was.

“I worked with a great committee of people from the hockey community. We had 13 teams participate with 74 games played that week. Collectively, we put in hundreds of hours before and during the games to make it a successful experience for players, coaches and spectators.”

There’s more.

In May of 2015, Culley was elected to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Face-Off Club’s Board of Directors, a booster club of sorts for the UAF men’s hockey team.

Currently, Culley serves as the Events Chair, a position which oversees all major events that the Face-Off Club sponsors, including the Progressive Dinner, the Tailgate Party, the Blue/Gold Game, and more.

Earlier this year she was elected the Face-Off Club’s vice-president.

Culley next became the secretary of Hockey Club Fairbanks, which is a relatively new organization in Fairbanks.

“As part of our Vision 20-20 statement, we’re trying to lower the cost of hockey and increase educational opportunities for our coaches, players and parents.

“We offer scholarships and opportunities to get more kids to come and play hockey. We also rent gear at a low cost.”

Culley also was instrumental in Hockey Club Fairbanks launching an April Fool’s Day 3-on-3 Tournament this past April.

“This tournament is dedicated to our scholarship fund and we raised $4,500,” said an elated Culley. “We had over 25 teams and definitely will do it again next year.”

It is people like Culley who really exemplify the hockey spirit that permeates Fairbanks. That spirit has also played a major role in the success of USA Hockey throughout its 80-year history.        

That was best on display by something that transpired in the spring of 2014 when then-UAF sophomore Justin Woods, a Fairbanks native who played on the 2012 U.S. Junior Select Team, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.         

“When everybody heard about Justin, the community support was incredible,” said Culley. “By that I mean not just the financial support but also the emotional support.        

“That’s how this community works. We have so many instances where you can see that hockey support come out. Some of my best friends I’ve developed through the community. I enjoy volunteering and I enjoy giving back.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc

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