When Steven Crane was growing up in Emmetsburg, Iowa, there wasn’t a youth hockey association. He never played on a formal hockey team.
“All I did was play lake hockey in Iowa,” said Crane, who grew up playing on Fish Island Lake.
Now in his adult life, Crane has taken it upon himself to ensure that plenty of kids in northern Iowa get the most out of their experience with the Mason City Youth Hockey Association. In addition to being the club’s treasurer and player recruitment director, Crane even helps oversee MCYHA’s concessions.
“It’s a balancing act,” Crane said, before adding, “There are a lot of great people in our organization that I can ask to step in and help.”
The role of treasurer is the most time consuming, as Crane has to make out checks and ensure the association’s budget is in line. He’s also involved with MCYHA’s 3-on-3 event, and his work as recruitment director is ongoing.
“My role as [recruitment] director is to make sure new skaters and their families are aware that we have hockey,” he said. “That’s a big effort I focus on so people have knowledge of our association and how they can get involved.”
As for Crane, he became involved with Mason City — which was founded 30 years ago — in 2006, when his two sons began playing hockey.
“I started getting involved to see our kids try hockey,” he said. “My wife [Natalie] taught figure skating in Minnesota and Iowa, and her family was big on hockey in Minnesota.
“We were fairly new to organized hockey. One reason I got involved was I wanted to find out how I fit in. I started asking questions. You sit around the hockey arena long enough and you realize you might as well be helping.”
Since Mason City is operated strictly by volunteers like Crane, his involvement takes on added importance.
“If people don’t feel comfortable or don’t know what they can do, that’s what we’re here for — to guide new families and players into the sport if they’re not familiar with it,” Crane said. “But I have to quantify everything by saying this is a team event. It’s not a one-person show. There are an awful lot of people who put in time to make sure this happens.”
As Mason City’s treasurer, Crane also works closely with USA Hockey, especially when it comes to the association’s try-hockey-for-free event and getting players started in the sport.
“We offer [players] the opportunity to skate for the next four months for $100,” Crane said. “We also offer equipment through donations, and through USA Hockey we get equipment bags when we do all the things they want us to do.
“We basically have all the pads and helmets that are needed for new kids. Sometimes they may have to find skates that fit properly. If families get into it and they’re not sure if their child is ready, they haven’t invested a lot of money.”
Mason City’s try-hockey-for-free programs have played a major role in terms of attracting more youngsters to the association.
“In terms of my role in the organization, the try-hockey-for-free events have enabled us to grow by 50 percent each year,” Crane said. “Those aren’t huge numbers compared with larger cities. But we went from 17 kids in 2014 to 26 in 2015 to 40 in 2016.”
Crane mentioned an anecdote that exemplified the satisfaction he derives from being involved with Mason City.
“Two brothers show up at the arena,” he said. “They were so excited to be out there. If I’m standing outside the glass, they’re waving to me like crazy. They didn’t know anything about hockey until they tried the try-hockey-for-free program.
“They remember you helped get them started. That’s the payback along with watching my sons develop as hockey players.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): Behind the Glass News