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Perham hockey association awarded grants

Members of the Perham Area Youth Hockey Association recently participated, with the association's Zamboni, in the Turtlefest parade.

The Gear Up Minnesota! hockey equipment grant program has awarded starter hockey equipment grants to 24 youth hockey associations in Minnesota including the Perham Area Youth Hockey Association (PAYHA).

Gear Up Minnesota! (Formerly the Play Our Game Equipment Grant Program) was started in 2000 to assist community-based hockey associations with recruiting new players and keeping hockey as affordable as possible. Close to $125,000 in equipment has been donated to associations across Minnesota in the 10 years of the program's existence.

This is the first grant received by PAYHA in continuing the group's efforts to bring hockey to life in Perham.

As one of the newer associations and Perham being one of the fledgling Minnesota hockey cities, grants allow the club to concentrate less on the necessities and more on the future.

"It's perfect for our age group," PAYHA President Trent Swanson said.

The grant provides 20 new sets of hockey equipment for beginning hockey players minus sticks and skates--a gift that saves some other PAYHA members running around trying to locate such gear.

Last season, the club purchased over $2,500 worth of equipment, a virtual mixed bag of everything from a local used sporting goods retail outlet, according to PAYHA Board Member Ryan Nelson.

"We bought everything they had." Nelson said.

PAYHA also received free jerseys from another grant program.

Degree, the official deodorant and antiperspirant sponsor of USA Hockey, has outfitted PAYHA players with new K1 jerseys in time for the start of the 2011-12 season.

The Degree Youth Hockey Jersey Program donates 90,000 jerseys to teams nationwide

Of 7,000 hockey association applicants, PAYHA was one of 1,200 to receive the jerseys.

One question that daunts the association is the fact that with a Zamboni, fresh pads, jerseys and good attendance numbers, the association and the kiddos ready to play hockey still operate with a half-sheet of outdoor ice.

"Our main objective is an indoor arena, this year or 10 years from now." Nelson said. "Short of that, a full-size refrigerated. I think that is extremely probable."

"We have a lot of things to overcome," Swanson said. "I think we have the right guys leading they way to get it done."

"Either one of the two helps our program.," Nelson said. "An indoor sheet fast forwards our program five years."

The program sported 32 players last season and will lose nine. Those players will be moving on in the Detroit Lakes hockey system having outgrown the burgeoning but limited program now in place in Perham.

"We're a lot further along than we were," Nelson said. "The dominoes aren't quite falling. They're wiggling."

More information about PAYHA can be found on the association's website, including an upcoming fundraiser, the PAYHA Golf Scramble.

The golf tournament will be held July 30. It is a four-person scramble. Costs are $320 per team or $80 per individual.

A family-oriented picnic and barbecue will be held after golf at Paul Miller Park.

Boats and tube riding for the kids will be provided, along with a free barbecue. A good will offering will be available at the barbecue location. Big Al's Grill Team will provide the food.

All money raised goes to PAYHA's general fund to keep hockey free for the kids playing it.

Assuming PAYHA's participation numbers retain and they gather a few more players to replace the nine graduating, along with the newly acquired grants and rumors of a soon full sheet of ice in town, the association continues to move forward in its quest to bring hockey to Perham.

"We are on the way up," Swanson said.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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