By Dan Guttenplan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — The collective vision of Paul Yameen and Drew Wile appears to be taking shape at the Graf Rink.
Yameen, the Newburyport hockey coach, and Wile, the Triton hockey coach, accepted checks totaling $30,000 last night at the Graf Rink — money that is earmarked for a $225,000 locker room renovation project at the home of the Newburyport and Triton hockey programs.
Latitude Sports Clubs owner John Grossi presented a check for $25,000 to the Friends of Newburyport and Triton Hockey, while Fairway Mortgage owner Dan Ventura presented a check for $5,000. The presentation was notable in that neither Grossi nor Ventura has a child in the Newburyport or Triton programs.
“It’s amazing that people from the community are supporting this,” Wile said. “People see what we’re doing with the programs.”
Yameen and Wile have planned a renovation that will put the Graf Rink locker room on par with that of a Division 1 program. Although the Newburyport and Triton hockey programs are considered rivals on the ice, the coaches have come together off the ice to lead a project that is in the best interests of both programs.
The coaches hosted a fundraiser at the Newburyport Elks Lodge in January that raised $60,000. They also plan to host a golf tournament fundraiser at Black Swan Course in Georgetown May 17 and a live music fundraiser at Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury on May 24.
Wile expects other private donors to make contributions to the project in the near future.
“Over the next several days, there will be a couple major announcements,” Wile said.
Although the fundraising effort is far from complete, Yameen believes enough money has been raised to break ground on the project in the coming weeks. The locker rooms should be partially renovated by next season, and as a result, Yameen and Wile expect the annual Newburyport Bank Tournament to draw more Division 1 teams.
“If it all works out, this will be a huge boost for both of our programs,” Yameen said. “We will be breaking ground this month. It’s going to happen. There’s no doubt it’s going to happen.”