The Graf is currently utilized by Newburyport and Triton youth and high school programs, plus a thriving figure skating club. And with girls participating in hockey like never before, the coaches say there is great potential in the near term for high school girls’ hockey teams to need use of the rink, too.
“I can foresee in the near future having a girls team (in Newburyport),” Yameen said. “But the facility is not made for boys and girls to be in the same locker room area. We’ve had issues with that.”
With varsity players utilizing one of the four rooms currently available at the Graf, it’s not uncommon to have coed youth teams and the parents of those players milling about while the older players are getting dressed or using the showers.
“It’s just not a good situation,” Yameen said.
The state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns the skating rink, recently offered clearance for the project and donors are stepping forward to help reach the $200,000 goal. After years of planning, a green light for the project is now closer than ever, Yameen said.
“We have had a verbal commitment for a donation through a well-known business,” Yameen said. “He pledged $25,000 and said he was going to speak with all the banks about matching his donation.”
Wile added that an architect with deep ties to the Salisbury area has pledged his involvement as well, and a few people have stepped forward to offer their time and crews to save on labor costs. The remaining funds will hopefully come from the legions of players and fans who have grown up bearing their school colors, be it crimson and gold or blue and white, they said.
“Through the years, how many hockey players have come through that building,” Wile said. “It’s a community arena and it’s used by these communities.”