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They shoot. They score!

By Lynne Winter ‘17

When Sandy Suzor’s son, Sam, joined the MSU Denver club hockey team as a freshman, he was welcomed with open arms at a school where he didn’t know anyone. As a first-year player, he was invited to the homes of other players and partake in their Roadrunner spirit, motivating him to keep his grades up so he could remain eligible to play.

“When Sam was playing, all of the parents contributed in so many ways – some took care of scheduling and others provided food and drinks. It was a family,” she says. “We worked hard to make sure everything was covered, the kids were safe and everyone was having a good time.”

One major difference between club sports and university-sanctioned athletics is that players are required to raise the majority of the funds needed for playing and traveling expenses. When Sandy and Sam learned teammates were struggling with the cost of being on the team, they wanted to help.

“Hiring coaches, paying for ice time and referees, and purchasing uniforms and equipment really adds up,” she says. “The per-person cost was prohibitive to some of our players, causing some to experience financial hardship or leave the team."

To offset the cost of additional expenses, Suzor began providing financial support to the team with the goal of ensuring students who want to play hockey AND earn their degree at MSU Denver can do so without a crushing financial burden.

“All of the players are expected to do their share of fundraising and team administrative work, but not everyone can commit to the same out-of-pocket expense,” she says.

What began as a group of scrappy, committed and talented players wearing mismatched jerseys playing at the Division III level has become a competitive Division II team, placing in the top 10 at the 2015 and 2016 ACHA National Championships, and bringing home a 2019 BMHC Championship. When the coaching staff asked if they could associate Sam and Sandy with the Annual Commitment to Excellence Award – awarded to a player or personal who goes beyond the call of duty – they were deeply honored.

“We were honored to have been thought of,” says Sandy. “Sam and I are passionate about the MSU Denver hockey team and being involved has enriched both of our lives.”

 “It is fantastic to know that any player who makes the team can have the same amazing experience Sam did – regardless of their ability to pay.”

Learn how you can support MSU Denver Campus Recreation Club Sports by contacting Nick Kinney, director of development for the college of business/athletics.

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