Trine youth hockey program taking shape

February 15, 2017

A partnership between Trine University and the Dekko Foundation will offer children and teens the opportunity to develop athletic and leadership skills through participation in skating and ice hockey.  Trine University expects to hire a youth hockey program director in the very near future, with programming to begin in August.

The university has received a $2.5 million grant from the Dekko Foundation to develop youth sports programs in its new Thunder Ice Arena and to aid with the construction costs of the arena and the MTI Center.

Following the American Development Model set forth by USA Hockey, Trine University and its partners will provide age-appropriate, age-specific programming that promotes the integration of high-performance cross-ice practices and games into youth hockey. The new director will lead the development and implementation of a unified hockey program and work closely with community partners, including the YMCA of Steuben County and area schools, to develop a long-term vision for the program.

Anyone interested in the youth hockey program director position may apply at

Trine University expects to serve 170 youth in its hockey program and will make its programming available to youth from all economic backgrounds, with the Dekko Foundation grant helping provide hockey equipment to participating youth.

“Community partnerships are always important,” commented Tom Leedy, Dekko Foundation President, “but they are never more critical than in small communities with limited resources.  Through this partnership, we’re adding more opportunities for young people to participate, lead and find their way in the world.” 

 “Besides offering exercise, youth sports teach participants important life skills like self-esteem, teamwork, persistence, problem-solving and communication,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine University president. “We are excited to have the opportunity to develop these skills in area youth, as we have developed them in our students for well over a century.”

The Thunder Ice Arena also will have hours available for open skating.

 “The Thunder Ice Arena and MTI Center will not only benefit Trine University students, but they will improve the quality of place and quality of life in northeast Indiana,” said Dr. Rick L. James, chair of Trine University’s board of trustees. “We are grateful for the partnership of the Dekko Foundation in this effort, and look forward to the community impact these facilities will have in the days to come.”

Announced in April 2016, the $8.2 million Thunder Ice Arena will feature an NCAA-compliant ice arena for men’s and women’s hockey teams as well as youth programming. The facility will also include locker rooms, weight and training rooms, concessions, a pro shop, and skate sharpening and rental.

Scheduled to open in 2018, the $13.3 million MTI Center will have three basketball courts, a six-lane bowling alley and esports arena, as well as a fitness center, golf pro shop, banquet room and training room. The home of Trine’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, it also will include concessions, an alumni suite and the Trine University Athletic Hall of Fame.

Based in Kendallville, the Dekko Foundation was established in 1981 by Chester E. (Chet) Dekko, using the proceeds from his manufacturing business. The mission for the foundation is to foster economic freedom through education, and the foundation supports programs that help young people gain skills, knowledge and character that will prepare them for the kind of life that offers the maximum opportunity for personal independence and choice.

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