NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) sponsored a hockey game featuring USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) and USS Abraham Lincoln’s (CVN 72) hockey teams at The Scope Arena on March 2, where Ford came out on top winning the game 5–3.
NMCRS sponsors an annual hockey game fundraiser called the “Blue and Gold Game” where $5 of every ticket sold goes to NMCRS. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a non-profit, volunteer service organization providing financial assistance, education, and other programs and services to active-duty and retired Sailors, Marines and eligible family members.
“NMCRS has been around forever,” said Master Chief Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) Evan Barnard, from Long View, Texas, and one of Ford’s goalies. “Taking care of Sailors is what they do. I have used them personally on a number of occasions as a junior Sailor. When a Sailor has nowhere else to turn, I want them to know that NMCRS is where they can turn.”
Drawing in a crowd of Sailors from Ford in support of the hockey team was no issue, as tickets completely sold out and Sailors were referred to purchase tickets through a direct hotline.
“We had an allotment of 250 tickets and sold out of those,” said Shawn Reed, Ford’s Fun Boss, from Baltimore, and the hockey team’s assistant captain. “We probably sold about 75 to 100 more afterwards.”
Reed has a background in hockey through working for the Washington Capitals for more than a decade starting as a stick boy, and working his way up to being assistant to the team’s equipment manager and head athletic trainer. Other team members have also had hockey be a big part of their lives even before they joined the Navy.
“I joined the hockey team because I’ve been playing my whole life and I thought it would be good to get out and do something with other people on the ship that I don’t really get to interact with during a normal workday,” said Interior Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Sullivan, from Baldwin, New York, one of Ford’s defensive players. “It’s always good to hop on a sheet of ice with the boys and play a little pick-up hockey, but now that we have a team it’s even better.”
The creation of Ford’s hockey team had a rough start, but once the word got out there was an ample amount of feedback.
“We started a hockey team last year at the beginning of 2018,” said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class Brandon Gammons, from Coral Springs, Florida, another of Ford’s defensive players. “There were a group of us that put out some feelers to see how many people played ice hockey, and the response was surprising.”
Ford’s hockey team participates in a league, but playing at The Scope Arena for this fundraiser was a special moment to remember for the players.
“This game was completely separate from our league, but this was the first official game that we have skated together as a team,” said Gammons. “I think we came out with some nerves and as the game went on we just needed to calm down, and play our game. I am very proud of our team, even when we dropped down 3–1 we never hung our heads or gave up, we pressed forward and dug deep to pull out the win. If you compare this being our first game that we have all played together versus a team who has had a hockey team for years, I think the sky is the limit for our team moving forward.”
For any Sailors interested in joining intramural sports, please contact your command’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.
Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier and the first new aircraft carrier designed in more than 40 years. Ford is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding.