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Hockey in his youth leads to youth hockey presidency

November 20, 2007|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN - Jeff Barbour played hockey growing up, but he and his buddies depended on Mother Nature to provide the ice. Barbour's family moved around because his father was in the U.S. Air Force, but grew up mostly in Waynesboro, Pa.

Barbour said they played only when the local ponds froze over. The first time he was in an ice rink was when the one in Zullinger, Pa., opened about 10 years ago.

His son, Brody, who was 5 years old at the time, "caught the bug" after seeing a Washington Capitals hockey game and asked if he could play.

At registration, when Barbour indicated he had played hockey, he was told, "Good, you're a coach."

He's been involved with youth hockey ever since.

Never, Barbour admits, did he imagine that it would lead to helping run an ice rink.

When the City of Hagerstown terminated its contract in August with Washington County Sports Foundation, the group managing the rink, the Hagerstown Youth Hockey Association agreed to run the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex.

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Barbour, 42, is president of the volunteer organization. He said it wouldn't be possible without Paul Sweeney, HYHA vice president, and the score of people who volunteer their time to help run the rink.

"It's pretty time-consuming," Barbour said. He added there was a lot of work in July and August, but things are settling down.

"I've told everyone I can't see - just for my sanity - being involved at this level more than two years, tops," Barbour said.

Once his son is finished with youth hockey, Barbour said he'll probably stay involved, but he'd like to return to coaching the younger players.

It was a long road to the Hagerstown rink for Barbour, who lives in State Line, Pa., and played hockey at the Zullinger rink until it closed and the hockey program was moved to a Frederick, Md., rink.

The program only lasted a year in Frederick, at which time Brody started playing in Hershey, Pa. After a year of running to Hershey three or four times a week, the Barbours decided to give Hagerstown a try in 2003.

"We were just looking for a nice place to play," Barbour said. "It's nice if you can play where you live. It was easier and closer."

Barbour was then recruited to be on the board at the Hagerstown rink, putting his experience at bigger rinks to good use.

The group implemented a timeline and a streamlined approach for the rink and is working hard to stick to it, Barbour said. The group is starting to add part-time paid employees to the mix.

Barbour is a sales representative for Jerr-Dan. He and his wife, Karen, have been married 20 years and have two children - Mikaela, 16, and Brody, 15.

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