Girls’ participation within the Waukesha County Youth Hockey Association is soaring thanks in part to Brianna Decker, a three-time Olympian and Olympic gold medalist.
Decker established the Brianna Decker Endowment for Girls Hockey in 2019 through the USA Hockey Foundation. The first grant distributed from the fund went to the WCYHA, where Decker played her youth hockey, while growing up in Wisconsin.
“Just the fact that she wanted to give back to our organization first, it was something we couldn’t have anticipated and we’re obviously very fortunate,” said Chad Muchow, who was the president of the organization in 2019. “It shed such a great spotlight on the region and allowed us to springboard girls hockey in the area. Just to be able to lead for girls hockey and for Brianna to put that spotlight on us was something you can’t duplicate.”
Decker, a native of Dousman, Wisconsin, played both boys and girls hockey from 2001 to 2005 and won a U14 state championship with the Madison Capitols in 2005. Decker played college hockey at the University of Wisconsin and led the Badgers to a national championship in 2011.
Decker played a key role on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team that won the U.S.’ first Olympic gold in the sport in 20 years. Deckeralso won six IIHF Women’s World Championship titles with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“She’s someone that whenever you see her, or hear her talk, she doesn’t forget about being from Wisconsin,” said Muchow, who is currently the organization’s 12U coaching committee representative. “So many people, when they get to a stature and figure that Brianna has become, they can easily forget about where they came from, but she continues to be who she’s always been.”
The fund provides grants to 8U and 10U female hockey programs across the United States. Grants are exclusively used to increase girls hockey participation by alleviating costs around ice equipment, advertising and marketing and overall development.
Muchow said that the organization’s girls hockey participation numbers increased by about 25% since receiving the grant in 2019. The organization also features a girls hockey program director and a board member for girlshockey.
“It’s more than the numbers because there’s now a girls-driven hockey association,” Muchow said. “The overall growth is great, but now that we have an advocate for girls hockey, it’s a huge portion of the grant that didn’t take any financial contribution, but was probably the most important part of it all.”
Muchow said that the WCYHA has used the grant to run multiple hockey tournaments featuring only 8U and 10U organizations, in which the teams will play four or five games in a weekend. The organization also hosts “Try Hockey For Free” days in conjunction with USA Hockey.
Muchow added that this is the first year the organization has been able to field its own girls teams at the 10U and 12U level along with two 8U hockey programs.
“It’s huge and it means so much to the families and the young girls in general,” Muchow said.
In 2019, the WCYHA accepted the grant at the Naga-Waukee Ice Arena as Decker signed autographs and spent time on the ice with players. Four days later, Decker was inducted into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame.
“It was a special weekend, and for us to be a small part of it … to be able to give back for what she’s given to us, it’s something I’ll never forget,” Muchow said. “The best part was seeing that interaction on the ice between the kids and her and the smiles on their faces. That joy and elation is something the kids will never forget.”
The fund has since given additional grants to organizations in California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Utah and Wisconsin.
This year, grants were given to the Marquette Junior Hockey Association (Marquette, Michigan) and the Utah Hockey Club (Ogden, Utah).
The fund is accepting applications from all USA Hockey associations across the country until June 1, 2024, for next year’s grant recipients. For more information on the Brianna Decker Endowment Fund, click HERE or visit USAHockeyFoundation.com/deckerfund.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.