Ft. Dupont Ice Arena in Washington, D. C. is an anomaly. Next door to a baseball facility in a neighborhood that would prefer basketball or football over a sport played with a stick and a puck, but it’s been there for 40 years serving the community in which it sits. Providing a safe place for
Ft. Dupont Ice Arena in Washington, D. C. is an anomaly. Next door to a baseball facility in a neighborhood that would prefer basketball or football over a sport played with a stick and a puck, but it’s been there for 40 years serving the community in which it sits. Providing a safe place for those in the neighborhood to learn to skate, play hockey, take up speed skating, perform as a figure skater in addition to educational activities that go on with area schools.
Second shift of the day is underway! Great work out there morning crew and thanks for supporting our Kids On Ice pic.twitter.com/v2ZinZE1af
— Friends of FDIA (@KidsOnIce) November 28, 2015
Gonzaga College High School holds their annual Purple Puck Tournament every year at the old arena with the slanted roof and one of the most amazing views of Washington, D. C. you could imagine (even with the baseball complex in the way). It was a finalist for the Kraft Hockeytown contest this past summer and holds a special place in the hearts of a lot of people who frequent the building.
It was in 2003 that I made my first visit to the arena that was hoping to open a second sheet in the next couple of years. That second sheet still isn’t there, but what is a new set of boards, new sound system, and some new improvements that have been made over the years through generous donations of time, money and effort into rehabbing the building one ceiling tile at a time. In the 12 1/2 years I’ve been announcing in that building, there’s been over 300 games announced, a few officiated as a referee (including my first), a dozen or so beautification days to help energize volunteers working on the building and a lot of memories, both good and bad.
This past weekend, however, was one of many 12-hour days I’d spend in the arena, but this time it was to help raise money for the facility and its programs. A 12-hour hockey game. Yes, one game, 12 periods, 40 minutes per period and the chance to announce a hockey game with 100-plus goals. Leidos, who has done a lot for area organizations, including their support of Hockey Fights Cancer night at Verizon Center and their Tickets for Troops program at Washington Capitals games, donated the jerseys the players wore.
The final score, the Black team downed the White Team 108-60. The teams combined to take 587 shots on goal, the top goalie had a 79.4 save percentage and one player scored 22 goals. Nobody played more than eight periods, while most only played in four.It was laid out in such a fashion that teams played a 40-minute running time period, with a 20-minute intermission to allow for rest and an ice cut. Otherwise, the ice would’ve gotten really bad. And #TheFort is known for having the best ice in the area. A lot of the players who played in the game had grown up playing at Ft. Dupont and have continued to do so. Some of the players currently play in a youth program at the arena.
This game gave those who wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping to get out and become a kid again on the ice. With everything the arena has done for the community, you can’t help but fall in love with a building that has short comings (but what 40-year old arena doesn’t?) but makes the best with what they have and then some. It was an honor to be part of this game and hope this becomes a yearly tradition.
Questions I was asked:
“How are you going to handle 12 hours?” Well, honestly, with Purple Puck I’ve announced 12-hours in that arena at least five times a year for the last 12 years, save for one year the tournament was cut short to three days. It was nothing new to me, but it was a lot of fun to announce all of those goals!
“How do you stay warm?” There is a heater in the penalty box that was generously loaned to me by Ron Slomski with Ft. Dupont. He loaned me the heater right out of his office, and it came in handy!!! The heater and the gloves that are designed to work with touch screens helped a lot. Those are the first gloves I’ve been able to find that I can write with.
“What was the strangest part of the game?” Announcing someone scoring their 22nd goal of the game. I think the most goals I’d ever announced in a game was 10 and that was a lacrosse game a few years ago. Because it was in DC, I announced every player’s ninth goal as “scoring the Ovechtrick”. That was well received.
“Did you get hungry?” Yes, I did. Thank you to Ron, Ty and Melissa for providing sandwiches and soup throughout the day. The soup broth really hit the spot later in the day. Ron brought over sandwiches a couple of times along with something to drink. The heater helped to keep the water warm.
“How cold is it really in there?” I’ve been in that arena when it was in the single digits, I’ve been in there when it’s been in the triple digits (both inside temperatures, not outside). I’ve had to go in to warm-up (less frequently) and I’ve gone outside to warm-up (more frequently). But the temperature is usually in the 20’s-30’s and that’s why the ice is always in great shape.
“How can I donate money to help Ft. Dupont Ice Arena and the Kids on Ice program?” Go to www.FDIA.org and donate today!