MOLINE — Before the Quad City Storm ever set foot on the ice this season, the fledgling organization made clear it had a goal that went beyond the wins and losses.
“We have to be more than just a hockey team,” team president Gwen Tombergs said. “We want to be the community’s team.”
So far, the Storm have made sure it wasn’t just empty words, as the first-year Southern Professional Hockey League team has already given more than $34,000 to community and non profit organizations nearly halfway through the season.
A large portion of that money has come from the Storm’s “Big 5” game promotion, which involves the Storm donating a portion of ticket sales to a non-profit organization.
The Storm gave over $10,000 to the United Way at the season opener and $17,500 to Trinity Health Foundation on Nov. 10.
The next “Big 5” game is Friday night against Knoxville and Tombergs expects the Storm to be giving a check for over $5,000 to YouthHope on that night.
“The people who love hockey love it through and through but for us to have a hockey team here, we have to have new people at our games all the time,” Tombergs said. “What better way than to give back to non-profits? That helps them, it gets new people to our game and it fulfills what we said about being the community’s team.”
The Storm have used a variety of resources to try and give back to the community and Tombergs is particularly proud of how the Storm has tried to make things easier for groups to hold outings at games.
Using a new ticketing system called Fevo, a non-profit group can pick a game date that works best with its schedule, then the Storm will create a landing page that has the game information plus any other pertinent information. The non-profit can then send the link to anybody, and each individual can pay for their own ticket in a predetermined section.
After the game, the Storm send the non-profit organization $8 of every $20 seat and $5 of every $15 seat.
Tombergs wants to continue building the relationship with non-profit organizations, and the Storm are hoping their promotion for non-profits can continue to grow.
“It’s a new concept, nobody’s ever done this before,” Tombergs said. “What we’re trying to do is make sure nobody has to handle tickets or money. We’re trying to take that whole burden away from the fundraising part.”
The front office isn’t the only part of the team making efforts to be part of the community. The players have been active in visits to schools and hospitals and have been noticeably active around the community and on social media.
“I think it’s awesome because I think that’s what this community needed,” Storm coach Dave Pszenyczny said. “We’re delivering. We didn’t just say, OK, we’re going to be big in the community; we’re big, even my Uber driver noticed me. Quite frankly, I don’t think that would be the case if they weren’t going out in the community.”
The community involvement was something Pszenyczny stressed as a requirement to coming to the Storm, but he said it hasn’t felt like an obligation.
So far, it’s something the players have responded well to.
“Getting out into the community and venturing out and seeing what’s out there is really beneficial to us and I think it’s beneficial to the community as well,” defenseman Cody Walsh said. “Getting out and interacting with fans, I think it goes to show we do appreciate all our fans and the community out there.”
At times this season players have commented on the chemistry in the locker room as being a positive and Walsh thinks part of that is due to getting out and interacting with people in the Quad-Cities.
“I think it gives us more of a connection with the boys all together, but it also gives us a better connection with the community,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is interacting with other people instead of just ourselves.”