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WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published February 27, 2012, 08:25 PM

HEROES AMONG US: Love of Sport Keeps Hockey Volunteers Going

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Many communities depend on volunteers to maintain or improve their quality of life. Tonight we introduce you to three people who give their time to help a local hockey team achieve its goals.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Many communities depend on volunteers to maintain or improve their quality of life.

Tonight we introduce you to three people who give their time to help a local hockey team achieve its goals.

Wherever and whenever the Grand Forks Stallions USA Gold hockey team is playing, you'll find Brenda and Lee Haugen. They started volunteering to support the high school club team when their son played on it 14 years ago.

But even after he graduated, the Haugens have stuck around.

"Kidded around saying 'we would have to adopt a kid.' Well instead of one, we adopted twenty some," Lee Haugen said.

As team managers, Lee and Brenda do everything from fund raising to locker room cleaning.

"And then I make a highlight video. It gives them something to remember," Brenda Haugen said.

The Stallion hockey team is made up of local students who where cut from their high school team or choose not to play high school hockey and want to continue to play organized hockey.

The Haugens say more good comes out of their donated time than just making sure the students have a place to play.

"Stay on the right side of the law. So it gives them an opportunity to keep their head straight. Keeps them in school, it keeps them focused and doing the right thing," Brenda Haugen said.

For the same reasons Tony Byzewski, who has coached the team since 2000, continues to volunteer his time for practices and close to 40 games on a schedule that includes a lot of traveling.

"Every year I ask myself 'who is going to take over?' If there was somebody there I might say 'maybe I would think about it.' But I want to see this program continue," Byzewski said.

And so do the players who appreciate what the volunteers have done to allow them to play after park district hockey.

"All their time and effort throughout the winter. Sometimes we don't do the best, but they are here to help us out," Stallions player Chris Clauson said.

"The kids on the team, they are all here because they love the game. They all got cut so he only reason they are here is that they love to play hockey," Stallions player Tyler Kemnitz said.

Hockey parents like Terri Berg, whose three sons have all played on the Stallions team, says the team was an important part of their high school years.

"I know they are not going to go on to be NHL stars by any means. It keeps them busy and gives them something to do. It's a wonderful program," Berg said.

"Without this organization, what are the kids going to be doing? It gives them an avenue to play a little hockey and to hang out with their classmates," hockey dad Bob Clauson said.

Even with the long hours and no paycheck, the Haugens and Byzewski say they don't have any plans to retire from the team anytime soon.

"Seeing their enjoyment, having to come back year after year, talking about how much fun they had playing for us, is one of the biggest reasons I keep coming back," Byzewski said.

"It's fun they are fun. It's good to watch," Lee Haugen said.

"We get a lot of enjoyment out of it. It's either going to make us young or make us old," Brenda Haugen said.

If you have any interest in volunteering with youth sports in the Grand Forks area, you can contact the Grand Forks Park District at 701-746-2750.

We continue our series "Heroes Among Us" on Tuesday night.

We'll introduce you to a woman who has found a passion giving time to help dogs.

Kelly Sander of Grand Forks is a hero to countless golden retrievers. Meet her Tuesday night at 10.

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