DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire athletic department recently announced the creation of a special project called “Operation Hat Trick,” an initiative that will give hats to injured military personnel.
The project was spurred by a radio segment in the early part of 2008 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 the radio report, Nate Hardy, a Navy SEAL and son of UNH professor Steve Hardy and his wife, Donna, was killed while on a covert mission in Iraq. As a result, Operation Hat Trick, which was coined after the term used when one player scores three goals in a hockey game, was born.
A partnership was born between the UNH athletic department, all the branches of the military, the local Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Manchester, N.H., Turfer Sports, an athletic apparel company based in East Providence, R.I., and Northeast Passage, a UNH program for the physically challenged that services many out-patient veterans. Turfer supplied the hats, which sport a specially-designed Operation Hat Trick logo on the front and “UNH” on the back, while the VA Hospital Recreation Therapy Department was chosen as the recipients of the hats.
For every two hats that are sold (suggested retail price of $19.95 each), a third will be donated to the VA Hospital’s Recreation Therapy program. To date, six local retailers, including an online provider, have committed to the project by selling the hats through their outlets. Retailers include the UNH Bookstore, Hayden Sports, Town & Campus, Sportdesigns.com, Friends of Men’s Hockey, Friends of Women’s Hockey and UNH Athletics. All branches of the military, as well as UNH student groups, are actively involved in promoting the project as well.
Operation Hat Trick will be launched at the UNH men’s hockey game versus Providence on Saturday, Nov. 22, with the women’s hockey having its special presentation Friday, Dec. 5 versus Harvard. A member from each military branch will present the colors, groups of military men and women and their guests will attend the game and there will be a special on-ice presentation. Members of the hockey team will wear Operation Hat Trick hats during introductions and then toss each personally autographed hat into the crowd. Three team-signed hats will be raffled off and proceeds will go to the VA Hospital Recreation Therapy program. Shortly after the game, members of each hockey teamwill travel to the VA Hospital to meet and greet patients and to deliver the first group of hats.
For more information, check back at www.unhwildcats.com. Hats are expected to be available for sale in mid-November at each of the retail outlets listed above and online at unhwildcats.com.