Charles B. Wang Ice Hockey Project Hope is the unprecedented, multi-faceted, education initiative that undoubtedly changes the lives of young athletes forever. It helps to spread the joys of hockey to youths in China by providing equipment, coaching clinics and building rinks.
On December 26, 2008 through January 6, 2009, a youth hockey team from Nassau County and their
The tournament consisted of five teams: three from China—Jiamusi, Harbin and Qiqihar—Ilves from Finland and the Mustangs of the Nassau County Hockey League. The Mustangs, who were known as Team USA, were coached by Bill Nimmo and were also be represented by Nassau County Hockey Director Mark Lamarr.
The Mustangs earned the right to represent the United States by taking part in the Islanders Pucks Into Bucks fundraising program, which allows the Islanders to support various organizations through the sale of Islanders game tickets. The Mustangs raised $78,720 by selling those tickets.
Joining the Mustangs on the trip was be Hall of Famer and Islanders Executive Director of Player Development Bryan Trottier, Islanders Director of Amateur Hockey Development Dan Bedard and Islanders representative Joseph Fu. All three men were involved in running clinics for participating teams in the tournament and other Chinese youth hockey teams, as well as their coaches.
“The trip for me was just beyond what I could possibly have expected,” Trottier said. “Between looking at the hockey rinks, seeing what the players were going through on outdoor rinks, what coaching challenges they had and beyond, it was just amazing. … My hope is that we can inspire these kids and Charles Wang can feel great pride in assisting that dream. He can take great pride in the role that he and the Islanders now have in these people's lives.”
Trottier continued, “Hockey is the greatest sport in the world, I know I am very biased, but it just provides young people with so many benefits. The health benefits of playing hockey are obvious, the fact that their school supports it, the parents support the game. I see great smiles all around and I leave here completely overjoyed. It's just been a fantastic minute-by-minute experience.”
By working closely with local and provincial officials in the cities of Harbin and Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province, China, the Islanders have embarked upon an un-precedented multi-faceted educations initiative that will undoubtedly change the lives of young athletes forever: The Charles B. Wang Ice Hockey Project Hope.
The ultimate goal of Project Hope is simple: To provide young Chinese athletes with access to educational opportunities.
Project Hope will endeavor to create opportunities for cultural exchange through international youth hockey events and by promoting Project Hope scholarship placements in the United States.
On the ice, Project Hope is about having fun—and sportsmanship.
“For many years I’ve heard many people talk about Project Hope and it seemed like a fantastic idea and situation. But when you actually visit China, and see the smiles on the kids’ faces and the administrators, it’s just incredible,” said Dan Bedard, the Islanders Director of Amateur Hockey Development. “It’s just an amazing effort by so many people to make this all happen. They were very candid and open about their appreciation for all of Charles Wang’s generosity. What Charles is providing is amazing—the opportunity for success for all of these kids. It was an unbelievable experience to see it first hand.”