Boost Hockey to help play­ers fi­nan­cially

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kyle New­man

Ral­ston Val­ley coach Matt Schoepflin wit­nesses the same trend ev­ery sea­son. In an age where the al­ready-pricey sport of hockey keeps get­ting pricier, tal­ented and mo­ti­vated young play­ers are miss­ing out on op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause the game, in ways that in­clude team fees and equip­ment, is be­com­ing cost pro­hib­i­tive.

“I’ve had a lot fam­i­lies whose kids have played AAA in the past, but they just can’t af­ford it any­more,” Schoepflin said. “That made me re­al­ize hockey’s al­ways been ex­pen­sive, but in the last decade, it’s only got­ten more ex­pen­sive. I’m al­ways ex­posed to dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies that strug­gle fi­nan­cially to make our pay­ments, or that need to be on pay­ment plans.

“It got me to think­ing that if there’s a way to give back and help out a lit­tle bit, I should do it.”

From that con­cern, Boost Hockey was born.

The T-shirt com­pany that launched last Tues­day is a “hockey for a cause” move­ment, where ev­ery two weeks, Schoepflin works with a lo­cal player in need of fi­nan­cial help. To­gether they cre­ate a cus­tom T-shirt to sell and the player’s cam­paign runs for two weeks, with 15 per­cent of the sales go­ing straight to the player.

Schoepflin hopes to raise around $1,500 for each player; in­ter­ested play­ers can ap­ply for as­sis­tance on­line and also ben­e­fit from cash do­na­tions on the site dur­ing their cam­paign.

From those need­ing more money, from travel teams to play­ers who are sim­ply down on their luck — as is the case for the ben­e­fi­ciary of the first cam­paign, for­mer Ral­ston Val­ley star Tony Salazar — Boost Hockey aims to keep young play­ers on track to­ward their goals on the ice, and in sta­ble sit­u­a­tions off of it.

Salazar’s hard­ship hits par­tic­u­lar close to home for Schoepflin, who coached the all-state selec­tion in high school and has re­mained close to him through­out con­tin­ued blot clot is­sues that de­railed his col­lege ca­reer at Metro State and forced him into re­tire­ment.

“With ev­ery­thing he’s gone through — and he’s still cur­rently bat­tling, be­cause he has another blot clot in his heart at the mo­ment — he still has a long road, and know­ing the med­i­cal bills he’s ac­cu­mu­lated just kind of led this to hap­pen,” Schoepflin said. “It made me say, ‘Why not start this now, and start it with Tony?’ Be­cause there are a lot of hockey play­ers out there in need of help just like him.”

Salazar’s shirt reads Play for those who can’t and his No. 18 is in­cor­po­rated into the de­sign.

It’s a mantra that not only sum­ma­rizes Salazar’s hockey iden­tity — he was a unique brand of bruiser who was as well-known for his phys­i­cal­ity and hus­tle as he was for his stick skills — but the mo­ti­va­tions be­hind Boost Hockey as a whole.

“This game that I’ve ded­i­cated my life to, and that I love — I hate the thought of a kid not get­ting the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence that love be­cause of money or some un­con­trol­lable ex­ter­nal fac­tor,” Schoepflin said. “Hope­fully, one cam­paign at a time, we can help get kids the op­por­tu­nity to play.”

Kyle New­man: 303-954-1773 knew­man@ den­ver­ or @Kyle­new­mandp

Kyle New­man, Den­ver Post file photo

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