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Scouts Hockey Continues to Develop Players Who Value Helping Others
By Marina Vaca
Steve Sarauer is the Scouts Hockey Director and Varsity Head Coach, and Emily Savage is the president of the Lake Forest Scouts Hockey volunteer board. She has two boys in the program -- a senior and a freshman.
The organization has served the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communities since 1975. Its mission: Players reach their on-ice potential and be young men of integrity who are committed students and leaders who value service and help others.
The team, which skates at Lake Forest College, is part of the Scholastic Hockey League (SHL), the premier league in the state. In the fall of 2023, it’s enjoying its largest group yet, with four teams comprising more than 70 players.
Sarauer and Savage recently answered questions for Lake Forest Love.
Why do you think the program has grown so much?
Supportive families and community help make the program great. Entire families come out to cheer for each and every game! All families are required to volunteer throughout the year, and everyone goes above and beyond to pitch in.
Also, great competitive hockey, the magic of playing in front of your school fans and a fun atmosphere is a draw, along with top-tier, experienced coaches who provide skill enhancement, camaraderie, and mentorship to help develop players during freshman to senior year. Our coaching staff has a track record of success, and it also values character, leadership, and personal growth of the players. They are great guys who motivate and inspire their teams to work together towards a common goal, they aim to create a positive and inclusive team culture that encourages all players to feel valued and supported.
We have great community partners also who help contribute to our success – whether it’s Donati’s Pizza, Duffers, Pucks or Chief’s Pub providing event space and food or sponsors such as Smith’s Men’s Store, Deerpath Inn, Bent Fork Bakery, Uline and Altounian Construction who provide financial and material donations to help keep our program running. We are lucky to be part of such a supportive community!
When did the program’s partnership with GLASA begin?
We have been partners with GLASA for several years now. We not only provide player participation in all of their adaptive sport volunteer opportunities, but we are especially evident in their weekly adaptive hockey sled games. Our players serve as sled pushers on the ice for these weekly games during the winter and also help with overall game logistics.
In addition to providing volunteers, we also donate proceeds from our top three events to GLASA each year: Pucks & Poms, Spirit Wear and Christmas tree sales. We also traditionally provide several volunteers for the GLASA annual Sleds Are Coming event at Lake Forest College. This past March, our Scouts Hockey players joined this amazing event yet again as volunteers both on and off the ice.
We were this year’s recipient of the J J O’Connor Achievement Award, which was established in JJ O'Connor's '01 name and is presented annually to an individual or group who demonstrates good character, leadership and sportsmanship, who is devoted to serving the community, and who perseveres regardless of obstacles.
Can you expand on the legacy of the Lake Forest Scouts hosting the annual Christmas tree event?
Our Scout Hockey Christmas tree and greenery sale is our organization’s largest annual fundraiser and has been an annual community tradition for the past 50-plus years. Typically, sales are open to the community Oct. 1, and players are responsible for selling trees, greenery and décor. Our organization does not receive any school funding so these sales help offset needed costs throughout the year. We also offer free delivery which is a huge selling point.
We also started an annual free Hot Chocolate with Santa where families can visit the tree lot and have hot chocolate and treats and get free family photos with Santa.
What is the Pucks and Poms event?
Also dubbed Hockey Homecoming, this is our annual free community event held the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving at Lake Forest College. This is a special night of hockey, school spirit and community, all benefiting GLASA (donations welcome at the door). All of our teams play back-to-back-to-back-to-back at this event with intermission dance performances by the LFHS Varsity and JV Dance teams. There are concessions from our community partners, the Urso family’s restaurants, Donatis, Puck’s Pub and Duffer’s, 50/50 raffles and an opportunity for youth in the stands to win a chance to shoot the puck during intermission of the Varsity game (for prizes!). The Varsity third jerseys are also typically unveiled at this game, adding to the excitement of the night.
When does Youth Hockey Night take place? Why is this impactful for the community?
Scouts Hockey celebrates all LF/LB youth hockey players and future Scouts at one of our Varsity playoff games every season, providing recognition and support to the young players who work hard and dedicate their time to the sport. This event also encourages them to continue playing and improving their skills, raises awareness of the positive impact that sports can have on a community, promoting teamwork, perseverance, and a healthy lifestyle and inspires younger generations of Scouts hockey players.
This past February, we welcomed six Winter Club Mite players on the ice to skate out with our Varsity starting lineup and national anthem and kick off the game in the pre-game huddle.
What other community events does the Scouts Hockey Program host?
Senior Recognition Night is a night to celebrate and recognize the contributions of senior players who have dedicated their time and effort to the team. This event allows the team and the community to show their appreciation for the seniors and their hard work throughout their hockey careers. It also serves as a way to honor their commitment and dedication, and to give them a memorable send-off as they prepare to move on to the next chapter of their lives
The Annual Alumni Game allows former players to reunite and connect with one another, typically held over Thanksgiving weekend.
The Outside Winter Classic Games at the Winter Club are magic; nothing like outdoor hockey under the lights and stars. These games are often one of the players’ favorite nights as playing outside is a unique experience.
For all-organization community service events, this past year all three teams went to Feed My Starving Children on two occasions, and we offer regular opportunities for our players to gather and volunteer together.
What stories can you share that show the impact of this program?
In speaking with graduating seniors, some of their best advice they’ve learned at hockey is below which I think is just another part what makes this community great:
--Hard work is tough in the short run but changes a lot in the long run.
--Keep your head up!
--You can’t improve on something until you realize what needs to be fixed; be mindful of your mistakes.
--You’re not going to beat a team with skill but with hard work.
Outworking your opponent is 80% of the battle.
--Keep a cool head.
--When you fail, you’ve only failed if you haven’t learnt from it. --Working hard and having a strong work ethic.
We also value a commitment to academics; players have received academic honors such as LFHS Honor Roll, National Honor Society and SHL league all-academic teams, participants in the LFHS Foundation Pitch Night business program/competition and Outstanding Senior Athlete awards. Our program also values a commitment to ongoing community service, helping give back to our community and surrounding communities.
After a challenging 1-4 start to the SHL season, the Lake Forest Varsity Gold hockey team rebound from a previously tough loss at home to St. Viator, and claimed a road victory over the #5 ranked St. Ignatius Wolfpack at the Fifth/Third Arena, which is the Chicago Blackhawks practice arena.
This was not the first time the two teams had faced off; the Scouts lost a close game at home 5-3 on Sept. 24.
After giving up a goal in the early first period of play, a goal from senior Thomas Santaniello would even out the score. The two teams would not see another goal until the third period when senior Jackson Drum came up with his own, making it 2-1. Senior goaltender Teddy Huddlestun made 34 saves in the Scouts win as the team picked up their 2nd win of the SHL season.
Senior Zach Shoemaker praised the team’s defense.
“Our zone coverage was the best strength of the game. We were picking up the opponent’s sticks and not letting the other team take the puck back door,” he said. “We stayed locked up on their offense.”
He also praised Huddlestun’s performance.
“Another big strength was Teddy’s play. Teddy stepped up the most when we needed him the most and played great making 34 saves,” he said.
Shoemaker reflected on the team’s win and how it would affect the rest of the season.
“We were on a bad losing streak and we realized that we can beat one of the team’s that has had a good start to the season, It’s important to remember this for later on in the season because we are aware of teams we have beaten before and teams we have not,”
The Scouts have yet another rematch this at home Sunday at 5:30 pm vs the #3 ranked Glenbrook North. The Scouts fell 5-0 at GBN’s home ice on Sept 30.
SHL profile: Lake Forest's Michael Dhamer
Michael Dhamer wants to improve his game this season, his second on the Lake Forest varsity – and some of the credit might just go to a local mite team.
Dhamer, 17, a senior right-handed shooting defenseman, also is the assistant coach for the Lake Forest Winter Club mite white team, with Scout head coach Steve Sarauer also serving as the mite head coach.
“Coaching hockey helps my game by giving me more ice time as well as relearning basic hockey skills and knowledge that I may have forgotten or that I don’t do as well as I should,” said Dhamer, driven for playing success this season by the team’s, well, subpar season a year ago in the Scholastic Hockey League, finishing 6-21 in the team’s first SHL campaign.
The Scouts lost 11 of their final 12 games last season.
“Last season did not go as anyone planned. The SHL is a competitive league and our chemistry wasn’t strong,” Dhamer said. “We knew the jump to the SHL was going to be tough and we trained really hard, but, at the end of the day, we couldn’t win.”
The Scouts haven’t forgotten the heartache of a year ago.
“Everyone is itching for wins. Our passing has improved, our goaltending is very strong and we will be relying on them all season,” Dhamer said, “We have some skilled offensive players who can light the lamp. We need to stay out of the box unless it’s for hitting someone too hard.
“Our goal is simple: Win games and get to the United Center. We need to play for each other and for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back.”
The Scouts opened the season 1-3 with a win over Stevenson, but losses to New Trier Green, Saint Ignatius and Loyola Gold (overtime).
Lake Forest opens October action with league games against Saint Viator at home on Wednesday, October 4, then on the road Saturday, October 7 in a rematch against Saint Ignatius, and then a home battle on Sunday, October 8, against Glenbrook South.
“Last year, I prioritized blocking shots and getting the puck out of our defensive zone,” Dhamer said. “My goal this season is to play more physically and secure some goals and assists.”
Dhamer will wear the “C” on his No. 19 jersey this season. “He is focused and always works hard,” Sarauer said. “He’s a quiet leader with great skill. Plus, he is very passionate about winning.”
Case in point, his favorite high school hockey moment: a simple chip off the glass to Jack Carabine against Carmel. “I was happy to contribute to a big win in front of Scout Nation,” Dhamer said.
“My career highlight so far has been scoring a hat trick playing (for) the Winter Club against the Renegades. The first hockey game I played was against the Skokie Flyers. I remember being terrified, and not educated on the offsides rule.”
He certainly knows the rule now – and of course that helps educating the mites.
“My style of the game is looking down the ice. I play passively, but also am willing to try and tread the needle down the ice with a sauce,” he said. “Although I like to skate the puck up, a chip off the glass has a high percent chance of getting the puck on our forwards’ stick or at least out of the defensive zone. I also tend to take multiple shots a game from the point.”
Dhamer said the biggest influence and motivation on his career is teammate and best friend Murphy Moorhead. “I grew up playing a lot of hockey with him and he pushes me to be better. Our competitive nature is very recognizable,” Dhamer said.
Dhamer is undecided on his college plans, though he wants to join a fraternity and keep skating in an adult league or at the club level.
“This summer, I’ve been going to the gym to build upper body strength. This includes simple exercises like pushups and bench press. Hopefully this brings more physicality to my game. I’ve also watched film (from) last season’s games to try and fix my bad habits and mistakes.”
Optimism is high this season for Dhamer – for the Scouts and his mite team.
Varsity Gold defenseman, Landon Milz, recently won the DriveSmart NASCAR Camaro design competition! His design will be featured on the real-life NASCAR Kyle Weatherman will drive at the NASCAR Xfinity series at the Texas Motor Speedway this September. Landon will be flown to Texas with VIP access as a guest of the team that weekend.
Varsity Blue defenseman, Victor Larimer, was a hero, saving a life of a woman in distress over the summer in Lake Geneva. See below for the article to learn more.
It’s a job title, but for one summer employee of the Geneva Lake Water Safety Patrol the designation lived up to its name quite literally last week as a tragic drowning situation came to a happy ending thanks to quick, clear-thinking action.
Second-year part-time Water Safety Patrol employee Victor Larimer, 17, a longtime Fontana summer resident, was on duty at Fontana Beach on Geneva Lake on Wednesday, July 19 as the 2:30 p.m. life-saving situation unfolded before his eyes from his watch tower.
“A woman, approximately in her twenties, was swimming out from the swim piers in Fontana out toward the swim area buoys,” recalled Geneva Lake Water Safety Patrol Director Ted Pankau. “She was swimming along with her aunt. When they reached the buoys and turned about to swim back to the beach, that’s when the one woman began to struggle ... took in water and went unconscious. The aunt at that point was trying to hold her above water, but the water was deep, about ten feet deep, and she was trying to hold her above water and she was yelling for help. The lifeguard noticed it, swam out about 100 yards almost to rescue both of them, because what we had was a possible double drowning situation almost. He was able to get ahold of the unconscious woman and swim her into shore. The aunt was able to swim in to shore on her own.”
Once at the beach, Pankau said Larimer administered life-saving measures to the woman.
“When he got the unconscious woman to shore, she had no pulse, she was not breathing,” he said. “He immediately began CPR and revived her right there on the beach. She regained a pulse, she regained breathing, but she did not immediately regain consciousness. Our boat crew arrived shortly after that and administered oxygen, and that seemed to help her regain consciousness.”
Fontana Fire Department EMS ambulance crews arrived on scene at Fontana Beach and “assisted in further life-saving efforts” according to Pankau, who noted the woman was subsequently transported to Mercyhealth Hospital Medical Center-Walworth, N2950 State Hwy. 67 in the Town of Geneva.
“I don’t have any further information on her condition,” Pankau said. “We did hear that she did survive this.”
Larimer was praised for his life-saving actions.
“The lifeguard did a great job,” Pankau said of Larimer, who splits his Geneva Lake Water Safety Patrol duties between lifeguarding and working the Water Safety Patrol boat crews patrolling Geneva Lake. “He had a pretty long distance to swim out to get her and a long distance to swim her back. Starting the CPR immediately when they got to the shore was crucial. This woman survived and it’s very possible she might not have ... He’s done a very good job for us these last two years.”
Read the full article here: