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  • Mariana Vaca

Scouts Hockey Continues to Develop Players Who Value Helping Others

By Marina Vaca Steve Sarauer is the Scouts Hockey Director and Varsity Head Coach, and Emily Savage is the president of the Lake Forest Scouts Hockey volunteer board. She has two boys in the program -- a senior and a freshman. The organization has served the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communities since 1975. Its mission: Players reach their on-ice potential and be young men of integrity who are committed students and leaders who value service and help others. The team, which skates at Lake Forest College, is part of the Scholastic Hockey League (SHL), the premier league in the state. In the fall of 2023, it’s enjoying its largest group yet, with four teams comprising more than 70 players. Sarauer and Savage recently answered questions for Lake Forest Love. Why do you think the program has grown so much? Supportive families and community help make the program great. Entire families come out to cheer for each and every game! All families are required to volunteer throughout the year, and everyone goes above and beyond to pitch in.

Scouts Hockey features many celebratory moments.


Also, great competitive hockey, the magic of playing in front of your school fans and a fun atmosphere is a draw, along with top-tier, experienced coaches who provide skill enhancement, camaraderie, and mentorship to help develop players during freshman to senior year. Our coaching staff has a track record of success, and it also values character, leadership, and personal growth of the players. They are great guys who motivate and inspire their teams to work together towards a common goal, they aim to create a positive and inclusive team culture that encourages all players to feel valued and supported. We have great community partners also who help contribute to our success – whether it’s Donati’s Pizza, Duffers, Pucks or Chief’s Pub providing event space and food or sponsors such as Smith’s Men’s Store, Deerpath Inn, Bent Fork Bakery, Uline and Altounian Construction who provide financial and material donations to help keep our program running. We are lucky to be part of such a supportive community! When did the program’s partnership with GLASA begin? We have been partners with GLASA for several years now. We not only provide player participation in all of their adaptive sport volunteer opportunities, but we are especially evident in their weekly adaptive hockey sled games. Our players serve as sled pushers on the ice for these weekly games during the winter and also help with overall game logistics. In addition to providing volunteers, we also donate proceeds from our top three events to GLASA each year: Pucks & Poms, Spirit Wear and Christmas tree sales. We also traditionally provide several volunteers for the GLASA annual Sleds Are Coming event at Lake Forest College. This past March, our Scouts Hockey players joined this amazing event yet again as volunteers both on and off the ice. We were this year’s recipient of the J J O’Connor Achievement Award, which was established in JJ O'Connor's '01 name and is presented annually to an individual or group who demonstrates good character, leadership and sportsmanship, who is devoted to serving the community, and who perseveres regardless of obstacles. Can you expand on the legacy of the Lake Forest Scouts hosting the annual Christmas tree event? Our Scout Hockey Christmas tree and greenery sale is our organization’s largest annual fundraiser and has been an annual community tradition for the past 50-plus years. Typically, sales are open to the community Oct. 1, and players are responsible for selling trees, greenery and décor. Our organization does not receive any school funding so these sales help offset needed costs throughout the year. We also offer free delivery which is a huge selling point. We also started an annual free Hot Chocolate with Santa where families can visit the tree lot and have hot chocolate and treats and get free family photos with Santa. What is the Pucks and Poms event? Also dubbed Hockey Homecoming, this is our annual free community event held the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving at Lake Forest College. This is a special night of hockey, school spirit and community, all benefiting GLASA (donations welcome at the door). All of our teams play back-to-back-to-back-to-back at this event with intermission dance performances by the LFHS Varsity and JV Dance teams. There are concessions from our community partners, the Urso family’s restaurants, Donatis, Puck’s Pub and Duffer’s, 50/50 raffles and an opportunity for youth in the stands to win a chance to shoot the puck during intermission of the Varsity game (for prizes!). The Varsity third jerseys are also typically unveiled at this game, adding to the excitement of the night. When does Youth Hockey Night take place? Why is this impactful for the community? Scouts Hockey celebrates all LF/LB youth hockey players and future Scouts at one of our Varsity playoff games every season, providing recognition and support to the young players who work hard and dedicate their time to the sport. This event also encourages them to continue playing and improving their skills, raises awareness of the positive impact that sports can have on a community, promoting teamwork, perseverance, and a healthy lifestyle and inspires younger generations of Scouts hockey players. This past February, we welcomed six Winter Club Mite players on the ice to skate out with our Varsity starting lineup and national anthem and kick off the game in the pre-game huddle. What other community events does the Scouts Hockey Program host? Senior Recognition Night is a night to celebrate and recognize the contributions of senior players who have dedicated their time and effort to the team. This event allows the team and the community to show their appreciation for the seniors and their hard work throughout their hockey careers. It also serves as a way to honor their commitment and dedication, and to give them a memorable send-off as they prepare to move on to the next chapter of their lives The Annual Alumni Game allows former players to reunite and connect with one another, typically held over Thanksgiving weekend. The Outside Winter Classic Games at the Winter Club are magic; nothing like outdoor hockey under the lights and stars. These games are often one of the players’ favorite nights as playing outside is a unique experience. For all-organization community service events, this past year all three teams went to Feed My Starving Children on two occasions, and we offer regular opportunities for our players to gather and volunteer together. What stories can you share that show the impact of this program? In speaking with graduating seniors, some of their best advice they’ve learned at hockey is below which I think is just another part what makes this community great: --Hard work is tough in the short run but changes a lot in the long run.

--Keep your head up!

--You can’t improve on something until you realize what needs to be fixed; be mindful of your mistakes.

--You’re not going to beat a team with skill but with hard work.

Outworking your opponent is 80% of the battle.

--Keep a cool head.

--When you fail, you’ve only failed if you haven’t learnt from it. --Working hard and having a strong work ethic. We also value a commitment to academics; players have received academic honors such as LFHS Honor Roll, National Honor Society and SHL league all-academic teams, participants in the LFHS Foundation Pitch Night business program/competition and Outstanding Senior Athlete awards. Our program also values a commitment to ongoing community service, helping give back to our community and surrounding communities.

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