With the support of prominent alumni as well as the university administration and the Huntsville community, Alabama Huntsville is working to continue the UAH Division I hockey program on a long-term basis.
Goals of the group include alignment with a major conference and future plans to build a multi-purpose facility on the UAH campus that will be the home of the Charger hockey program. The facility would be subject to approval of the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees based on the board’s established criteria, which includes achieving fundraising goals, developing a sustainable business plan, and aligning with UAH’s budget parameters. UAH is a part of The University of Alabama System.
“The UAH hockey program has a long and cherished history,” UAH president Darren Dawson said in a statement. “We are truly grateful for the vital support from our alumni and community as we work together to ensure that the legacy of UAH hockey continues.”
“This is an exciting time for UAH hockey,” added UAH athletic director Cade Smith. “The UAH administration and our alumni have come together to make a long-term multi-million dollar, multi-year financial commitment so UAH hockey not only survives but becomes a major Division I leader that competes for conference titles and national championships.
“The UAH administration and our alumni are committed to this goal, and it is our hope that the collegiate hockey community will give UAH the opportunity to show what a valued member we will be. Having made the commitment to our hockey program, we know we need to have a conference to call home.”
Following a strong campaign to save the program in May, UAH alumni led by Taso Sofikitis (1996), CEO and president of Maynards Industries Group, and Sheldon Wolitski (1996), founder and chairman of the board of The Select Group, are working together to ensure the sustainability of the program.
“It is great to see the support we’ve already received and we’re excited about the future,” said Sofikitis. “It’s clear that people care about the UAH program and growing the game in the Southeast. Hopefully, years from now we will have teams like Alabama, Tennessee and more in Division I. We’re excited about the future.”
“The support means a lot coming from alumni,” added Wolitski. “There are so many people here in the community who have been positively impacted by UAH hockey, but when you have alumni reaching into their pockets and investing in this program for the long haul, that’s what will make it sustainable. We want to continue to see the community benefit from college hockey.”
An integral resource for the alumni group has been involving key players in an advisory committee which includes Sean Henry, president and CEO of the Nashville Predators, Bill Wickett, executive VP of communications of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Cam Talbot, a UAH alumnus and current goalie for the Minnesota Wild.
“Sean and Bill have been incredible to work with,” said Sofikitis. “They’re both extremely knowledgeable and well-rounded about what works and doesn’t from both the marketing and growth perspectives. They know that, if you can grow UAH hockey, it creates fans for both of their teams as well. It’s a win-win.”
“Using the incredible success of the Charger hockey program to improve the campus as a whole can be invaluable for every facet of UAH,” said Henry, regarding the possibility of building a multi-purpose facility on campus where the Chargers will play. “It will continue to allow this incredible program to grow, soar and amaze us year in and year out. It will only make the school bigger and better every year.”