Sharks Alumni Foundation to make a difference in NorCal
The San Jose Sharks are one of the newer teams in the NHL, but that hasn’t stopped the organization from starting the Sharks Alumni Foundation and moving forward with giving back to the Bay Area community.
The idea for the foundation first started during the NHL Stadium Series game at Levi’s Stadium in 2015 between the Sharks and Los Angeles Kings and picked up momentum last spring when former Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray was appointed president.
“I started spending more time in the area and I thought it made all the sense in the world to start up the foundation,” said Murray. “The Sharks are such a strong brand and we have always been appreciative of the community and all they have done for us as players over the years. I started getting involved and planning the process and it all took on a life of its own.
“We started getting things done and then all of a sudden, I was president.”
The San Jose Jr. Sharks youth program, which has boys and girls teams, will also be involved with the foundation as many ex-Sharks players now serve as coaches in the Jr. Sharks organization, including Jr. Sharks hockey director Curtis Brown.
“As an alumni of the Sharks, we want to expand Sharks territory through the foundation,” said Brown. “It’s in my DNA, and really on all levels, whether it’s cheering for the big club, giving back and helping the community or skating with the youth. I think it’s great to get this alumni foundation off the ground and get more alumni involved at all levels.
“When I got back here in 2011 and started working with the Jr. Sharks, one of the things I’ve always tried to focus on has been getting the alumni involved back in youth hockey. That was important, and you saw guys around the country doing it. These guys know how to play the game and if we can get more of them involved with the kids, it’s only a positive.”
Murray noted that while the foundation will be a way to help out with community-based initiatives, it will also help out former Sharks players who may need some sort of assistance.
“We’re all proud Sharks alumni and we all want to be an extension of the Sharks brand,” said Murray. “Our main focus is to raise money for children in the Bay Area so that they can afford to play any sport they enjoy. It’s very expensive to play sports these days and we’ll support those kids with participation costs and equipment costs, but we won’t just limit ourselves there. We recently played a benefit game in Santa Rosa for the families that needed assistance from the fires there. We’ll get behind lots of different causes in the Bay Area community.
“Also, and a lot of people don’t realize this, but when you go from being a professional athlete to the second part of your life, that’s something where we want to make sure we take care of our own and help out guys that are maybe going through a tough time, that’ll be an important part as well.”
This summer, the Sharks Alumni Foundation will partner with the Aubri Brown Club, a foundation Brown and his wife, Ami, started in 2005 upon the passing of their infant daughter, Aubri, to support families that have lost children.
“NHL alumni and connections from around the sports world have really come out the past 11 years to support my wife and I with this cause, and now, it’s super cool that we can work with the Sharks Alumni Foundation because it’s a positive on all levels,” Brown said. “It’s uniting people who are involved in both of those wonderful movements.”
— Matt Mackinder
(March 27, 2018)