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A MUSKEGON SPORTS PROGRAM MUCH MORE THAN TYPICAL

Dan Israel, president and owner of The Muskegon Lumberjacks, below, outlined their goal:  “To be the best junior hockey organization in the world, on and off the ice.”
Muskegon’s history with hockey dates back to the 1930s and today’s Lumberjacks are members of the United States Hockey League (USHL), the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league and leading producer of NCAA players and National Hockey League draft picks in the United States.
Dan brought along Tim Taylor,VP of Business Operations, Head Coach John LaFontaine, right, and players Michael Hakkarainen and Bobby Kaiser.
Dan’s ask for the  Lumberjacks: more fans, more sponsorships.  The Lumberjacks have a direct financial impact in Muskegon that is estimated at $15-20M per year. These 16 to 20-year-old athletes give back to Muskegon by teaching and mentoring Junior Jacks, a 120-member Youth Hockey Association, The Muskegon Lumberjacks Charitable Foundation which supports education, recreational and social programs that encourage the healthy development of youth and families. They reach out to over 5,000 students in 20 schools with Reading Caravan.
Bobby Kaiser (the “enforcer”) spoke about what a great way it is to incentivize kids to read by direct interaction with the players, challenges and prizes.

HOCKEY AND THEN SOME
Building culture is critical for success, and that’s what the Lumberjacks strive to do. They’re not only developing great players (95% receive Division 1 college scholarships), but developing great men with their outreach to Muskegon County’s kids providing positive role models.  Under current leadership, the franchise has increased sponsorships by 22% in the last two years.
This weekend there is abundant opportunity to support these hometown heroes—a double header with the first place Green Bay Gamblers (as of this writing, the Jacks won Friday night’s game!  Anthony Del Gaizo scored twice and added an assist, propelling the Muskegon Lumberjacks to a 5-3 win over the first-place Gamblers.  The two goals also propelled Anthony to the top of the USHL in goal scoring.  Mikael Hakkarainen scored three points, one goal and two assists, and has now racked up eight goals and 14 points in 10 games since returning from a concussion on December 8th. Since that day, Muskegon is 8-2-0, and they’ve won 10 of their last 13 games.) Get out there Saturday for Star Wars night and watch them do it again!
If you’re considering corporate sponsorship support, what better way than to check these guys out in person; Saturday promises to be an exciting night in downtown Muskegon.

                Tim Lipan reminded us that the Rotary After Hours will be the Lumberjacks’ Party Deck on March 14. He also thanked Dan for saving Muskegon hockey.

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