Hole-in-one: The success of Wayland Hockey Association’s annual golf tournament

On Sept. 22, 2023, Wayland Hockey Association hosted their annual golf tournament to fundraise for the Wayland hockey program. Local businesses, foundations and hockey families [sponsor the event,] WHA President Rob Desmond said. [Former hockey players participating] really speaks to the strength of the community.
On Sept. 22, 2023, Wayland Hockey Association hosted their annual golf tournament to fundraise for the Wayland hockey program. “Local businesses, foundations and hockey families [sponsor the event,]” WHA President Rob Desmond said. “[Former hockey players participating] really speaks to the strength of the community.”
Credit: Tina Su

The sound of 72 golf balls making contact with a club throughout the field travels to Wayland residents’ ears. The Wayland Country Club saw many golfers from near and far, old and new during their annual golf tournament.

 

On Sept. 22, 2023, Wayland Hockey Association (WHA) hosted their annual golf tournament fundraiser at Wayland Country Club. This fundraiser is their biggest of the year. WHA has been an integral part of Wayland’s hockey program for over three decades with their number one goal being to support the players. A large part of this support comes from giving the teams sufficient funding for success.

“We accept donations throughout the year, and between the boys and the girls teams, there are ticket fees and gate fees that contribute, but that’s a pretty small amount,”  WHA President Rob Desmond said.

The WHA board is made up of parents of current and former Wayland hockey players as well as other members of the community looking to help out. The current board is made up of nine parents, two of which are Michael Lavelle and Joe Polizzotti, the co-chairs for the fundraising committee.

“I’m a new member of the Wayland Hockey Association,” Board Member Pam Roman said. “It’s run by Wayland hockey parents who volunteer their time.”

Since both the boys and girls hockey teams are self-funded, this fundraiser is in direct support of them.

“The money that we raise at the golf outing and the other nominal ones that are around goes directly to offset the cost of the program,” Desmond said. “The balance of that is typically divided up among the parents as fees. So, they can vary every year depending on how much money we raise.”

With this tournament being an annual fundraiser, WHA decided to add something new this year to keep it interesting: the $10,000 Hole-In-One Contest.

“We had a couple of new sponsorships this year,” Desmond said. “[We were able to] give golfers money if they could hit a hole-in one. It drew more folks in, and we will continue this moving forward.”

Although the main goal of the event is to fundraise, it brings together the Wayland and hockey communities for a day of fun.

“We offer lunch, a round of golf and then there’s dinner,” Desmond said. “[There is also] a round of raffle prizes, [like] tickets to local sporting events, dinners and vacation homes.”

With sports like soccer and swim taking up a large portion of youth involvement in Wayland, there is not a lot of attention put onto hockey.

Wayland has a really vibrant hockey community.

— Rob Desmond

“Wayland has a really vibrant hockey community,” Desmond said. “We don’t have a youth program in the town so it’s a little bit out of sight, out of mind, but when [people] hear about us, they get really excited. We try to build a community at events in addition to the main goal of helping offset the cost of the program.”

This is seen through former members of the association and former players of the hockey team participating, leading to WHA’s tribute to the members at the tournament.

“A lot of the old Wayland players came and participated so we put out some old pictures from the yearbook of their teams,” Board Member Shari Pletta said. “It was really neat to see them reminisce about playing together. They were all superstars and Dual County League champions back in the 60s and early 70s.”

Not only do past hockey players support WHA, their kids participate in the fundraisers, like the golf tournament or pond hockey games played in the winter. The fundraisers have been growing in the community.

“We don’t have the final numbers, but usually this fundraiser will make about $20,000 or more,” Pletta said. “This year, we are up 15 or so people from last year and hoping to keep growing.”

A common theme for WHA is to pass down board leadership for fundraisers as the children of former leaders age out of the program. The former president of the WHA, Jen Bonner, had three children pass through Wayland High School.

“I’ve been involved for two years now,” Desmond said. “I have two boys, and I got involved when the previous president [of WHA], Jen Bonner, was [stepping down]. I got very involved when the high school boys team wasn’t able to compete at the varsity level two years ago, and at that point, wanted to get involved to see what we could do.”

For WHA, their current number one concern is to support the program in getting more funds. If you would like to donate to WHA, go to their website.

“Ice time is very expensive, so whatever we raise helps us with some of the fees that parents have to pay on all the Wayland hockey teams, girls, boys, middle and high school,” Roman said.

The overarching theme of community shines through all of WHA’s fundraisers and Wayland hockey’s current athletes.

“We had kids [of former players] come back,” Desmond said. “Maybe they didn’t even play but their parents did. There were two Wayland alumni, both of whom are coaches with the boys and girls teams. Individuals who played high school hockey in Wayland, went away to college, but they still [came] back and coached. I think it’s pretty great.”

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