CHICAGO – USA Hockey volunteer Andrea Hahn doesn’t need a Fitbit to know she’s getting her 10,000 steps in during the course of the day.
She spends almost no time sitting in her general manager’s office on the second floor of the Fifth Third Arena, the host site for the 2022 Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier I 14U National Championship. Instead, the crackle of her handheld radio sends her springing into action to put out another of the millions of little fires that spring up during the course of a tournament.
For the record, Hahn said the fitness app on her phone said she walked 20 miles during the first day of the tournament.
“There is a lot of walking up and down the stairs because the elevators take too long. So I just kind of find myself running from place to place,” Hahn said during a brief respite from the never-ending list of tasks associated with running a tournament.
“Anybody who runs a rink is a master at multitasking. They have to be. It has to be your second sense that you can do six or seven things at once and still hit all the things that are on your to-do list.”
One of the first to arrive and the last to leave, Hahn enjoys the long days as much as she does showing off the Chicago Blackhawks two-sheet practice facility that opened in 2017. That includes giving tours of the Blackhawks locker room and training facilities.
“Hopefully this is a special memory for the players and their families,” Hahn said. “It’s pretty cool to see where Patrick Kane sits in the locker room and what the hot and cold tubs look like.
“It’s funny, when you take the kids through, the things that they find really interesting are kind of the things that I would never look at. We have a wall that has all the numbers of the players and their razors on it. It’s probably the most photographed thing in the locker room.”
The Blackhawks support of youth hockey in the Chicagoland area and beyond dates back decades and continues to grow through the organization’s various efforts that support everyone from grow the game campaigns to diversity programs. This facility and the activities that are held here just add to that community feel.
Located a long slapshot from the United Center, where the Blackhawks play their home games, the Fifth Third Center provides the perfect platform to host a national tournament, and Hahn hopes it’s just the beginning of a long and prosperous relationship with USA Hockey, with hockey families around the country the main beneficiary.
“We love the city of Chicago and I think it’s an easy location for most people to get to,” said Hahn, a long-time hockey mom who grew up in the suburbs of Homer Glen, Ill.
“I feel like Chicago’s an easy place to get to. And when you get here, we’re going to take care of you like what I do for the Blackhawks.”
Hosting Nationals is several years in the making for Hahn and her crew. They were originally slated to host the tournament in 2020 when Covid-19 shutdown Nationals, and the world for that matter. USA Hockey moved forward with plans to allow the 2021 hosts to hold serve and gave the 2020 hosts the opportunity to work this year’s event.
Not that they needed that much time to prepare, but as life continues the long, slow march back to normal, this tournament feels like a celebration of a return to happier times for everyone in the hockey world.
“For a while we were completely closed during COVID, but now that we’re out of that it’s been really great to open back up. This is what the kickoff to normalcy feels like,” Hahn said.
“I’ve been working for two years to get to this point and it’s great to see people coming in and out of the building, just like the old days. It’s been a long time coming.”