Kat Hasenauer Cornetta

Writer. Communications assistant. Coffee drinker.

Five Questions With…The Hockey Volunteer

There are people in this world who come up with ideas about a million times better than anything else I will ever fathom. Adam Sherlip is one of them.  Adam, better known to his social media followers as the “Hockey Volunteer,” is currently raising money to travel to Ladakh, India to teach hockey to local students. In his previous work with three time Olympian and women’s hockey legend Angela Ruggiero, Adam traveled to China to instruct a youth league there with Project Hope, an outreach project of the New York Islanders. Adam, Angela and Project Hope eventually brought youth hockey teams from the Heilongjiang Province to the United States on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to play against American youth hockey teams and meet other hockey players like themselves.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Adam five questions as he prepares for his upcoming trip.

Kat: Why India?

Adam Sherlip during his work in China.

Adam Sherlip during his work in China.

Adam: India happened on accident.  This all started from a random email sent to me by Angela Ruggiero of a conversation she had with someone from the organization SECMOL (Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh).  I finished reading the email, looked up SECMOL, read up on the amazing community they have established, like their solar-powered village, their bio-sustainable/organic farming, their Buddhist traditions, and then the clincher: they were requesting volunteers to teach them hockey.

K: What is the current state of hockey in India? Do those in the area you are volunteering know of hockey?

A: Hockey in India is pretty non-existent.  I tried looking up information on the Ice Hockey Association of India, and could barely find anything.  Ladakh is the defacto hockey capital of India, being in the Himalayas with bitter Winters that can create outdoor surfaces.  SECMOL has received some equipment donations over the past few years, and have been playing since.  But they have a long way to go, based on the information and pictures I’ve seen.

K: What is your biggest obstacle to taking this trip?

A: There have been a couple of big obstacles in this trip.  First and foremost, getting this initiative started has been incredibly time-consuming.  That email from Angela was from the first week of December.  I decided that night to pursue this, and the only way it could be done was to raise money through donations.  Setting up a website, writing tirelessly, networking, sending hundreds of emails, and soliciting cash and item donations has been a 20-hour-a-day job.  It’s been incredibly exciting, yet tiring.

The other obstacle is where I’m going: Kashmir.  This is a region once to referred to by Bill Clinton as the most dangerous place in the world.  Fortunately, the peace agreement between Pakistan and India is still holding, even with the current escalation in tensions.  Overall, the crime and terrorism in Kashmir is at historic lows, even after their recent state elections.  The region of Ladakh can be argued as the safe-haven of the region, being comprised mostly of Buddhists and some Muslims, but even Ladakh has issues.  I’m hopeful things will be OK while I’m there.

K: I understand your work with the Islanders and Angela Ruggiero spurred on your idea for the project. What was the most fulfilling part of your work in China with Angela?

A: First-off, working with Angela in itself is fulfilling.  Angela and I still keep in touch as friends and for future endeavors, and we always agree that we seem to work very well together, and we see things in a similar light.  For Project Hope, the most fulfilling part was seeing the smiles on the kids faces, and seeing how vastly their hockey skills improved 1 year after a 45 minute session we held on a beat-up ice rink in Heilongjiang Province.  The fact that hockey single-handedly improved the welfare for these kids by providing them with more than just happiness, but better educational resources and greater attention from the local sports bureaus is incredibly gratifying.  The potential for a prosperous future has been exponentially increased, and it’s all from a sport.

K: Is this project part of a bigger goal for you? What is next after this trip?

A: This is definitely part of a bigger goal.  India is the first of many places I plan to visit around the world.  To most hockey people, myself included, hockey is a sport that imparts many of the virtues that transcend national and cultural borders: honesty, accountability, hard-work, selflessness, and teamwork.  I want to  show people from less-fortunate parts of the world that it doesn’t matter where you come from, if you can adhere to the values of the sport, you can not only succeed at the sport, but improve your state of being.

Upon my return, I will begin an aggressive campaign of fund-raising for grants and corporate donations/sponsorship.  There are plans to grow this project and let it go where the winds take me, with some ideas on how to develop it.  I haven’t decided on my next destination though, as all of my focus and intention is being directed to Ladakh.  It’s overcoming the unknown that leads to growth, so I look forward to figuring out the next destination.  It’ll be based on a combination of me searching, as well as accepting requests.

A big thank you to Adam for the interview! Adam needs to raise a significant amount of funding in order to embark to India in January. He is currently accepting donations and sponsorships, as well as holding a Ebay auction of autographed items from the NHL. You can learn more about his trip, fundraising and auctions at his website, http://hockeyvolunteer.blogspot.com.

1 Comment

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