The North American Hockey League, dubbed “the league of opportunity,” strives to develop competitive hockey players that are preparing for greater expectations in college and later life. A significant component of that development is personal growth that evolves through community involvement and not from time on the ice.
The league as a whole is deeply immersed in each of its 24 communities. Each team has specific community programs and projects, some of which generate some very sizeable monetary contributions to a number of very worthy causes. Every year the Austin Bruins continue to generate thousands of dollars for cancer research with their Pink in the Rink game.
However, the measure of “giving back” can’t always be derived from the amount of a donation. “We truly pride ourselves on the players being great people with a community mind first, junior hockey is not just about learning and performing at the game but also growing as a person. It is exciting any time we can work with groups and organizations in the schools. Our community programs have come a long way and we look forward to them continuing to grow” said Nigel Dube, Assistant Coach and the team’s community liaison.
While the Minot Minotauros continue to raise funds for local charitable causes they also place a significant importance on the number of people they can impact directly. The team’s programs continue to grow each season, this season alone the players have contributed over 800 hours of good will, in numerous programs that have generated a positive impression with hundreds of Minot youth.
The following are some of the most prominent Tauros’ programs and annual projects. “This season we didn’t want to focus on one particular group or a single program, we wanted to be involved in as many things that would help people of all ages in the city we love so much. Every junior community makes hockey possible and we want to say thank you by giving back in every area possible,” commented Dube.
Building the Future
- The Building the Future program’s focus is to encourage and motivate students to both be physically active and to read outside of normal school hours. Once reaching their individual goals the students receive a Qdoba kids’ meal, four Tauros tickets, BTF t-shirt, BTF back pack, hat, Frisbee, and a Gatorade. The program is based in demographic schools where these things may not be possible. It is also an opportunity to be a second voice with the teachers to help get a positive message across to youth in the community. Over 325 students have reached their goals to date. This program has also reached outside of the city limits and to small towns in the area. The players spent over 400 hours in schools during this season with the Building the Future program and Circle of Friends. “Students were motivated by the player’s interactions when they visited schools. It was a collaborative effort to enhance students to love reading and exercise,” said Miss Waldera, a fourth-grade teacher at McKinley Elementary School.
Back Pack Buddies
- In a partnership with Sunrise Rotary and Town and Country Credit Union the Minotauros were on site in August to help collect supplies for students in Minot who would go without school supplies for the year. This drive collected enough supplies to overfill a school bus! Coach Dube and former Tauros employee Brett Fiddler also contributed and did a two hour power hour where they matched the weight of the school supplies in those two hours, it was over $500 in supplies during that time.
NAPA NASCAR Day
- A partner of the Tauros, NAPA Auto store hosted a NASCAR Appreciation day. The Minotauros were on hand to help with games, sign autographs, and serve food, as all donations accepted that day were given to Companions for Children. Companions for Children is a nonprofit group that offers mentors for youth in Minot and surrounding area.
Circle Sanitation Coat Drive
- For the second year in a row the Minotauros hosted a coat drive to help support people in the area who are in need of a warm coat for the winter months in North Dakota. In this year’s coat drive over 500 coats were collected and distributed to three different local organizations, the coats ranged from children to adult sizes.
Tesoro Teacher Appreciation and Book Drive
- Again, for the second year in a row the Minotauros hosted a book drive on Tesoro Teacher Appreciation night. The book drive collected over 1500 books this year which was more than three times the number of books collected in the previous season’s drive. Along with collecting books during the game Tesoro and the Tauros teamed together to give 300 tickets to local teachers in appreciation of what they do for the community youth. The Tauros players picked where the books were to be delivered, they were delivered to: Our Savior Lutheran Church, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Minot Public Schools Free Libraries, Lewis and Clark after school program, Minot Homeless Coalition.
Minot Park District Toy Drive
- The Minot Park District held a toy drive for organizations around the community and the Tauros were proud to collect toys during a weekend series to help this benefit. As users of the MPD facilities the organization is proud to join in any fundraisers with the Park District!
Circle of Friends at Erik Ramstad Middle School
- On a weekly basis, the Minotauros Players would meet with the Circle of Friends focus group. During their visits, players would work with students on different concepts such as: team building, organization, goal setting, fitness, reading, critical thinking, and problem solving.
- In planning with the Erik Ramstad Middle School Intellectual Disabilites class the Tauros had a Hat Trick Day at the school raising money for Prarie Grit Adaptive Sports. Fundraising $818 during the event the group was able to buy a new sled!
Trinity Teddy Bear Toss
- Annual teddy bear toss takes place in Decemeber when the Tauros score the first goal in the game. This year’s teddy bears were donated to the Minot Police Department, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, as well as Trinity Hospital. This season over 500 bears were collected to distributed.
Tuesday with the Tauros at High Air Grounds Trampoline Park
- Each Tuesday in the month of February players were at High Air Grounds in Minot to jump with locals. A portion of the proceeds during the evening hours that totaled $600 were donated to Companion for Children. This was another opportunity to draw focus to people of all ages being physically active and working on a healthy lifestyle while having fun!
Sunrise Rotary Minot Winterfest
- Players were on hand for a day of outdoor activities as the Minot Park District and Sunrise Rotary group hosted Minot Winterfest. It was a day for all to enjoy outside activities in the great North Dakota winter! Players were on the sled hill, playing street hockey, and snow painting just to mention a few of the activities available.
Hoops for Hearts at Jim Hill Middle School
- Joining together to encourage students to raise money for the American Heart Association through their physical education classes and Hoops for Hearts. The top 25 fundraising students were awarded Tauros tickets to attend the game with their peers, eat pizza, and be acknowledged in front of the crowd. The top 4 fundraisers received a Tauros jersey and the student who raised the most money dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff. The students raised $2,200 for American Heart Association.
A1 Evans Septic Scoring for a Cause
- In February of this season A1 Evans Septic Services signed on to donate $10 for every goal that was scored on home ice for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs. The money raised will be donated to the 2nd Story social club. It offers its members an opportunity to participate in social, educational and recreational activities, to acquire basic social skills, and provides experiences that promote independence and self-sufficiency to better integrate into the community. The current goal scoring collection is $350.
Prairie Grit Adaptive Sports
- New to Minot this year is Prairie Grit Adaptive sports which featured sledge hockey. Prairie Grit is a non-profit organization that provides sports opportunities for people living with physical and mental disabilities of all ages. The Tauros were proud to help with the on-ice activities and help others chase their dreams of being hockey players!
Minot Hockey Booster’s
- Youth hockey is an integral part of any Junior Hockey city! The players joined in Mite hockey skill practices every Monday and Tuesday throughout the Minot Hockey Booster Season with over 150 hours of their time. Players also volunteered their time to other youth and billet sibling teams throughout the season to lend a hand or off the ice with teams! Rikard Lundin a member of the Minotauros office staff also coached a peewee team.
These community initiatives continue to grow each year, both by increasing the number of kids involved and the corresponding player experiences. “The Tauros take great pride in all community projects. The students have positive role models to look up to and we are always looking forward to their visits. While interacting with the students, they developed relationships that have positively impacted our students. It is impressive and positive to see players from all over come to town to play hockey and care so much about being a part of the community as well!” said Kristin Christianson, a second-grade teacher at Lewis and Clark Elementary.
These interactions result in life lessons for both the players and those they interact with which will benefit our future communities and mold good people. A worthy goal that all clubs strive to achieve.
“I’m very humbled I have been given the opportunity to become a part of the Minot community.” said Tyler Jeanson, a veteran Tauro in his second year with the program, “My time in the city of Minot has given me the chance to build relationships with so many great people and has helped me realize the importance of giving back. It has taught me the difference between being a ‘good guy’ and a ‘great guy’ and that you can always work on becoming a better person.” He added “I’m thankful we have people in our organization like Assistant Coach Dube who truly cares, he lead the way and showed us his passion for the city of Minot.”
Community contribution is exemplified by the Tauros, an organization that has established a mantra that emulates their team culture; “Whatever it Takes to Make a Difference” and the importance of paying it forward. Truly, the Tauros are a junior hockey club that has joined their success in the game with making a difference in their community. The Tauros community initiatives speak volumes about the character of the players in the NAHL.