Standing just a few steps from the Eden Prairie Community Center ice arena, Jennifer Britton and Julie Jacobson talk about goals.
For these goals, though, the action is happening off the ice.
Several hockey groups have teamed up on the Eden Prairie Hockey Legacy Campaign to improve rink facilities and honor the sport’s local tradition at the Community Center.
Britton and Jacobson are two of the many parent volunteers working on the Legacy Campaign, which aims to raise $500,000 in donations for the project. It has another $150,000 to go to meet that goal, after raising $350,000 in six months.
Last week the two gave a walking tour of the project, starting at the entryway to Rink 1 where they plan to adorn the walls with signs honoring local championship teams and alumni who made the leap to college and pro hockey.
The tour ended in the EPHS girls’ and boys’ varsity hockey locker rooms where crews were finishing renovations made possible by the campaign’s fundraising efforts.
“Obviously, the whole purpose is to take this from feeling just like a community center to being a community center plus an Eden Prairie hockey rink, not just the high school but for all Eden Prairie hockey,” Britton said.
According to the campaign website, this is the first time the Eden Prairie Hockey Association (EPHA), the EPHS hockey programs, and the Community Center have worked together to create legacy spaces within the center.
Work will include adding signs, painting, and updating the trophy case. One side of the wall will represent the three state championships the girls have won and the three the boys have won. On the other side will show players who went on to play in the NHL, college or junior hockey, and the history of hockey in Eden Prairie.
There will also be a tribute to Kate Fronek and Ryan Shuman, two players who passed away while in the hockey program. A plaque to Shuman will be moved and updated.
“Once you walk through these glass doors, that whole area is going to be transformed basically into red, white and black, and will represent, hopefully, Eden Prairie hockey as a whole,” Britton said.
Jacobson said the project began with the much-needed renovations to the locker rooms.
“EPHA was already working on doing some legacy (pieces),” she said. “We thought, ‘What a great way to get everybody on board.’ EPHA, the high school, and the community center have all been super supportive. The (Eden Prairie Booster Association), too. We’re all working together for a common goal, which is so important to keep the momentum going.”
Players from both teams moved into the refurbished locker rooms during an unveiling last Friday. Rink 1 is where the EPHS hockey teams play.
Britton said there had been efforts in the past to update the locker rooms.
“It was old; it was dated,” she said.
For instance, the old metal lockers had been in the Minnesota North Stars dressing room at the Met Center, which was demolished in 1994. And, Jacobsen said, the HVAC unit blew 70 degrees in the girls’ locker room all year.
Now, the locker rooms are equipped with modern stalls, more room for players and skate equipment, better air circulation thanks to HVAC improvements, and working showers.
“It’s unbelievable,” Jacobson said.
“Well overdue,” Britton added.
The locker room renovations have spurred some playful banter between Britton’s hockey-playing sons.
Her son, Will, played on the 2021 state championship team and has since graduated. Her younger son Gavin is a sophomore goaltender on the JV team.
(Jacobson’s son Billie Jacobson-Couch is a junior forward on the varsity team this year.)
“My younger son loves to tease his older brother about (the locker room renovations being done after he finished playing there), and my older son likes to tease his younger brother that they wouldn’t be getting it if it wasn’t that they didn’t win a state championship (in 2021),” Britton said.
More donations needed
Jacobson said the campaign still needs more help to reach its $500,000 goal.
Britton said the first phase of the legacy part is painting and signage, while the second phase will be the legacy walls representing the state championships. How fast the legacy part is done depends on funding.
“We are reaching out to the community and business leaders who may not know what we are doing to get help,” she said.
All money raised will support the entire legacy campaign. Donations and in-kind contributions are tax-deductible. Additional dollars from team fundraising efforts such as the golf event, car washes, and more will support the campaign.
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