Why did you first start the STAC Fund Face-off? What was your ambition? - We started this in 2014 after I attended the Minnesota Security Dealers Association’s annual Buy-Side/Sell-Side hockey game in Minneapolis. They do a much more casual game, but they attracted a lot of interest and the event was a blast. When I came back to Chicago, Bill Russell and I brainstormed about how we could replicate it in Chicago. There is a lot of hockey players in the city, and specifically in our industry, and we thought the demand and interest would be there. Since we, as an organization had shifted toward a focus on community service, we decided to structure it to benefit the STAC Fund and generate scholarship dollars.
How many years has it been running? – This will be the 3rd year.
What makes this event so great for spectators? – It takes us out of our offices and off of trading desks into something that is a bit more personal, especially for the guys on the ice, as most of us have played for a good portion of our lives. I think it’s fun for the spectators to see colleagues and friends in a competitive environment. Fans get to have a couple drinks and watch their sell-side coverage battle their EMS sales guy. Everyone gets a pretty good kick out of that. We also have a spectator participation game where the fans toss a puck from the stands to see who can get it closest to the center ice face-off dot. The 2 closest get to come on the ice for a chance to shoot Score-O and win a prize.
How many players do you usually have each year? - We average about 50 skaters each year.
Does the game usually attract players from other STA affiliates? – Absolutely. Guys come in from all over the country to play, and a couple guys even come down from Canada. We try to schedule it so our out-of-state colleagues can meet with customers, then come straight to the rink for the game.
What is the criteria to play? – All you need is your own equipment. We have skaters self-assess themselves when they register, and I try to make the teams with equal talent levels to make sure everyone enjoys the skate. Guys and girls of any skill level are welcome to play, this is for charity after all.
Who are the teams this year? – This year our 2 teams are sponsored by Thomson Reuters and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Both companies have been tremendously supportive of the event in the past. We think the sponsorships for events like this go a long way, since the net proceeds go directly to the scholarship fund. We have custom jerseys made with each sponsor’s branding and logo and all the players get to keep their jersey. That’s great marketing for the firms who sponsor a team.
Why Johnny's Ice House? – It is close proximity to most of our offices, but also for it’s affiliation to the Blackhawks. Guys get to skate at the Hawks practice facility. I think that’s an added benefit, especially for our out-of-towners.
The images from last year show Ice Crew Girls? What's that story? – Ya, we bring in the Blackhawks Ice Crew to help with the promotional aspect. They sell raffle tickets for our 50/50 raffle and help fans with our “Chuck-a-Puck” competition at the intermission. Everyone likes getting pictures with them and they tend to keep the crowd really engaged.
Can children come to the game? – Absolutely. This is a family friendly event for sure. The guys that skate often bring their kids to watch the game. The whole environment is very jovial. It’s family, friends, colleagues...and it’s all to benefit a great cause.
What is your vision for the event? – I’d just like to keep it growing. This is one of our two marquee events that benefit our scholarship fund. The net proceeds from this help send kids to college, while we all get to have a great time. Sometimes we forget that those registration dollars, that donation, that 50/50 raffle ticket purchase all go to help a Chicagoland kid get a higher education. We’re all in fortunate situations and we’re in a place to do something positive for our community. As the event grows and grows, that will directly correlate to how much good we can do with the STAC Fund. Every dollar counts and hopefully we can continue to support the effort with the event’s success.