BLAINE (WCCO) — By night, the Blaine girl’s hockey team is steadily improving and is closing in on a .500 record — making saves and strides on the ice. By day, however, this group of girls is making different strides far away from the pucks and skates.
“Giving back to the community, it’s just fun and it’s a good experience,” said senior captain Jorden Johnson.
The hockey season is just a couple months long, but visiting hospitals and working with local charities is a year-round activity for this team. And their most popular charitable pursuit is the ‘Teddy Bear toss.’
“By doing the Teddy Bear toss and things like that, they are able to give a teddy bear and see the smile it puts on the kid’s face,” said Coach Steve Guider.
The girls sell teddy bears at a hockey game, and then when the first goal is scored, fans throw them on the ice. The bears are collected by the team and then taken to places like the Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Hospital.
It has special meaning for goalie Tara Hoverstad.
“My brother had leukemia when I was little. The Ronald McDonald House brought me back because children there receive bone marrow transplants and I gave my brother a bone marrow transplant,” said Tara.
Hoverstad’s brother passed away when she was 5, but things like this keep his memory strong. What she and her teammates do off the ice, has made her want to pursue a career as a nurse.
“I grew up in a hospital and I always remember there was a specific nurse that we would wait for and I want to be that nurse some day,” said Hoverstad.
She’s just one example of a team that truly cares.
Coach Guider never got to be the professional hockey player he aimed to become, but that hasn’t stopped him from visiting with children battling life-threatening diseases. His team has followed his lead.
“When we were at Mercy Hospital we had another girl who lost a brother to cancer and they were giving a bear to a kid. And when she came out there were a lot of tears. I’m very proud of them. They are great kids. And it’s probably the greatest group of kids I’ve been associated with as a coach,” said Guider.