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Jack of all trades Talbott a New Mexico hockey treasure

 

From left, NMICE president Jeff Thompson, Land of Enchantment Hockey Association president Rick Wenner, USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher, NMICE leader Jaye Talbott and New Mexico Ice Wolves owner Stan Hubbard take part in the first-ever NMICE Youth Hockey Day at Outpost Ice Arenas on Oct. 13. Photo/New Mexico Ice Wolves

Jaye Talbott has been a volunteer for the New Mexico Ice Hockey Foundation (NMICE) for 10 years and has relished every second of her time in and around the rink.

She has officially served as registrar, assistant treasurer and 8U growth coordinator, but in all honesty, has really been a jack of all trades.

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“I have tried to fill in wherever there was a need from building the first online registrations to helping with the website, sending out communications, ordering and fitting countless hockey jerseys and helping with special events like Try Hockey for Free,” Talbott said. “I started out as your typical hockey mom when my son Tyler first tried ice hockey as second-year Squirt and he really fell in love with it. Up until then, I had never even watched a full hockey game. I learned to love it, too, though.

“It takes such skill, yet children typically pick it up quickly, so youth hockey games are always fun to watch. What has really kept me hooked is the incredible people. The youth hockey community is so welcoming, and the hockey families are really the best.”

And now that junior hockey is back in town with the first-year New Mexico Ice Wolves of the NAHL, Talbott said she’s confident the franchise is in Albuquerque for the long haul.

“It is huge that the NAHL and junior hockey is back in New Mexico,” said Talbott. “It is so great for the youth players and hockey fans in general to be able to watch such a high level of hockey played so close to home. I think they can be sustainable just by winning the hearts of the Albuquerque community and they are off to a great start. The rink (Outpost Ice Arenas) is in such a great location and the recent upgrades are amazing.

“The Ice Wolves are a good team with great coaches, an amazing owner and a super cool logo.”

The recently-retired Talbott added that hockey has really grown, especially within NMICE, during the past 10 years. In 2014, NMICE had 40 8U and younger players and this season, the organization has almost 80 registered.

“I do wish there was better growth around the entire state,” Talbott said. “It takes a lot of committed volunteers to grow the program. Holding Try Hockey for Free events is a great start but then you need a quality program to keep players interested. Volunteers are the cornerstone to growing the program and keeping the it strong.”

Still, she said that hockey has given more to her than she could have ever imagined.

“Hockey had given me so many great memories, good friends, as well as a lot of enjoyment and personal satisfaction as I watch those little Mites and Minis that I helped check in on their first day now playing as Pee Wees and Bantams,” said Talbott. “Over the years, I have worked with a number of amazing volunteers who have also dedicated much of their time to youth hockey, so I am really humbled and very honored to have been presented with such an amazing award recently from the NMICE organization.

“Every coach and team manager dedicate so much time and effort and deserve to be recognized. The board members are critical as well and I know of many, both past and present, who have given so much of their time to make youth hockey successful. They all deserve a huge thank you as well.”

PHOTO: From left, NMICE president Jeff Thompson, Land of Enchantment Hockey Association president Rick Wenner, USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher, NMICE leader Jaye Talbott and New Mexico Ice Wolves owner Stan Hubbard take part in the first-ever NMICE Youth Hockey Day at Outpost Ice Arenas on Oct. 13. Photo/New Mexico Ice Wolves

— Matt Mackinder

(Nov. 20, 2019)