She was directed toward figure skating, but watched her brother play and spent nearly every day at the rink. She got her first pair of hockey skates for Christmas when she was 15 years old. When she graduated from college, she started working for a college hockey league and a Suburban Sports Group, a rink management company in Michigan. That was when she really learned how to play the game.
“I remember the first time I stepped on the ice with all the gear on,” she said. “I had gathered equipment from every possible place, borrowing from co-worker’s kids in the office and my brother’s old stuff. It was like Christmas morning getting on the ice at 5:30 a.m. to participate in the Breakfast Club, a program that focused on practicing the skills to make better hockey players.”
Welch recently talked to the Business Journal about her new role with USA Hockey.
How did you get involved with USA Hockey?
In 2000, I interned with what was then called American Hockey Magazine (it is now USA Hockey Magazine.) I was a junior at Michigan State University and had been working with the Spartan hockey team through Sports Information. I spent four months writing for the magazine and was convinced I would be back in Colorado Springs at some point. After graduating from MSU in 2002, I spent the first seven years of my career with the Central Collegiate Hockey Association as a communications coordinator, communications manager and eventually director of communications and community relations. While working with the CCHA, I continued to freelance for USA Hockey Magazine. I also started to get involved in community outreach programs like the Hockey is Fun program, which invited kids out to the rink to try hockey for free. This program continued to grow and introduced thousands of kids to the sport so when USA Hockey created a Membership Development Department, I applied for the position and it was an easy transition to come out to USA Hockey and work with local associations across the country to focus on growing the game at the 8-and-under age level.
Tell us more about your efforts of growing the game of hockey for youth.
I served as a program services manager in the Membership Development Department, whose focus is to grow the game at the 8-and-under age group. We created marketing campaigns for USA Hockey local associations to utilize to help increase awareness and participation numbers. The focus is on both acquisition of new players and retention of current players and we created a variety of events and initiatives to support our volunteers in growing the game. We introduced more than 6,000 kids to hockey on one day.
In your new role with USA Hockey, you will be focused on the Women’s National Team. What is most exciting about working with the women’s team?
The most exciting thing about working with the Women’s National Team is the stories of these world-class athletes. Not only do they compete with heart and are incredibly talented, but many of them are doing other things in addition to participating on the U.S. Women’s National Team — they are playing college hockey, one of them is in law school, working full-time, raising a family, etc.
In addition to working for USA Hockey you are a yoga instructor and have an interesting wellness retreat coming up, tell us about that.
While hockey has been my passion since childhood, I’ve really fallen in love with yoga in the last five years. I took teacher training at CorePower Yoga in Colorado Springs.
My friend Mallory Underwood, who recently moved from Colorado Springs to Pensacola, Fla., and I created the company Anahata Movement to host the upcoming Retreat for a Moment’s Peace in Cahuita, Costa Rica, this Oct. 22-29.
When deciding on a name, we were looking for something that combined our intention of helping our guests refocus on their internal balance with the benefits this would respectively pass onto their families and communities. Anahata refers to the fourth chakra, the heart chakra (chakras are the concept of energy focuses within the body), and all that this chakra stands for truly embraces our intention. It is associated with touch and actions of the hands and represents making decisions by “following your heart.”
Colorado Springs business leaders have expressed concern that young professionals leave Colorado Springs. What advice would you give business leaders who wish to recruit and retain young professionals?
I think one of the biggest things to recruit and retain young professionals is the sense of community. When you feel like you have connections to the people in the community, you are less likely to be looking to move. Colorado Springs, while known for its transient nature with the military, Air Force and number of colleges calling it home, is such a beautiful place to live. Being so close to the mountains, there’s always something to do. I would encourage business leaders to create more networking opportunities to create awareness and connection.