Knighthawks feeling ‘Proud’ to host first IHAAZ festival
Excitement is building for the Knighthawks with a new season on the horizon, in part because the program will host its first IHAAZ festival.
It’s a big step forward for a young program as the Knighthawks will host the festival Dec. 15-17 in Peoria.
“Since establishing the Knighthawks three years ago, we have really grown as a club, going from four teams to five, to now six, with the help of our friends and staff at the Peoria Sportsplex,” said Stephanie Proud, the festival community head. “Having the opportunity to host a festival makes our presence official and gives our program more credibility in the hockey world in an effort to grow this great game.”
Knighthawks president Brent Proud said having a festival at your own arena can serve as an inspiration to those currently in the program’s rec league.
“We have been actively working as a team with the staff at the Peoria Sportsplex to grow the game through the ‘Learn To Love’ hockey program and Saturday morning rec leagues,” Brent said. “By having this festival, it is great for us in helping to grow the game as kids who are learning can come out and see the level of play that IHAAZ shows and it gives them a sense of something to work for and they can witness the excitement of the IHAAZ festivals for themselves at our home rink.”
The effort put forth to put the festival can’t be downplayed. A lot goes into it, from rounding up volunteers to simply finding the time to do it.
“The largest and most important part of planning a festival is the schedule, which is handled by the IHAAZ board,” Stephanie said. “Other items of focus are volunteers to run the scoreboard, ensuring refs are in place for the games, scheduling parent volunteers to man fundraising stations, and most importantly, ensuring that we have delicious food.”
Clearly, it isn’t a one-person job. It takes a team to work together to make it all happen.
“Just like the teams on the rink, teamwork is what is going to make a festival successful,” Stephanie said. “We are grateful to have some pretty good relationships with members of other clubs that have provided us with some good advice and guidance.”
Finding something unique to offer at the festival is a big deal as well. And Stephanie will tell you that isn’t an easy thing to do.
“Every club tends to have something that is unique to their festival,” Stephanie said. “Yuma has their delicious tri-tip, Prescott has their yummy breakfast burritos and Tucson has a bar. We are currently searching for that one thing that is going to make our festival unique and memorable, and unfortunately, since we are the first festival, time is of the essence. We are definitely feeling the pressure.”
Festivals are always special and the Knighthawks are looking forward to making their festival as memorable as others in the past. Festivals provide a sense of unity among the IHAAZ community.
“We love seeing various cities in Arizona come together for hockey,” Stephanie said. “The relationships developed between clubs, players, coaches and parents are the best part of the festivals. It’s amazing to see the teams develop from the first festival to the last and to see the players grow both in skill and maturity.”
Ultimately, the great thing about the festivals is having fun, and Stephanie said the Knighthawks do a good job of promoting that aspect of the game.
“The No. 1 rule of the Knighthawks Hockey Club is to have fun, however, in that process, the players are learning to gracefully lose, humbly win and learn about overall respect of the game and its players,” Stephanie said. “IHAAZ and the festivals allow players to experience these life lessons.”
— Brian Lester
(Dec. 1, 2017)