|Dick Umile addresses the crowd.|
|Seniors from women's hockey visits with vets.|
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- On Monday, Dec. 15, the seniors on the University of New Hampshire men’s and women's hockey teams traveled to the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Manchester, N.H. to drop off over 300 hats as part of Operation Hat Trick program. Players and coaches handed out hats and signed autographs to veterans in attendance. In addition, head coaches Dick Umile and Brian McCloskey along with members of the UNH administration were on hand. The group also toured and visited the recreation therapy department and presented the VA with a check for that program.
Operation Hat Trick is a special project that was recently created by the Athletics Department at the University of New Hampshire in response to a radio segment heard in early ‘08 that reported “the thing most wanted by those members of the military who have received head injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan is a baseball cap to cover their wounds, dressings and scars.”
At the time of this radio report, Nate Hardy, a Navy SEAL and son of a UNH professor and his wife, was killed while on a covert mission in Iraq. As a result this project was born and Operation Hat Trick was coined after the term in hockey when one player on the team scores three goals in a single game.
A partnership developed between UNH, all military branches, Turfer Sports, an athletic apparel company from East Providence, Rhode Island, the local VA in Manchester, NH and Northeast Passage, a UNH program for the physically challenged and a program that services many out-patient veterans. An Operation Hat Trick logo was created for hats bearing “UNH” on the back, Turfer supplied the hats, and the VA Hospital Recreation Therapy Department was deemed the recipient of one hat for every two sold.
Six local retailers to date including an on-line provider have committed to “adopting” the project by selling through their outlets. Retailers include:
* UNH Bookstore
* Hayden Sports
* Friends of Men’s Hockey (hats available for sale at men's hockey games)
* Friends of Women’s Hockey (hats availabel for sale at women's hockey games)
* Sportdesigns.com (www.unhwildcats.com)
* UNH Athletics
* Town & Campus (www.collegegear.com)
Here’s how Operation Hat Trick works: For every two hats sold, a third will be donated (suggested retail price of $19.95 each) to the VA Hospital’s Recreation Therapy program. All branches of the military and UNH student groups are actively involved in promoting this project as well.
Hats are on-sale NOW at each above retail outlet and on-line (click here to purchase).