MEET THE LATEST ADIRONDACK BANK 12TH MAN-CHIP TRAVIS
Chip Travis (Right) with son Paxton.
Simply stated, it is no easy task to lead a youth sports organization in this day and age.
Virtually every challenge one can imagine is out there facing those few brave souls who dare put their hat in the ring to volunteer to make a difference in a kids sports organization.
You name it, it’s out there. From our country’s economic condition, to kids specializing in one sport from the age of 5, to increased distractions (i.e. video games) for kids, to apathy among adults, to adults who view their child as the next Wayne Gretzky, makes volunteering to organize other volunteers to help a kids cause, no easy task.
About six years ago, lifetime Roman Chip Travis put his hat into the ring of the Rome Youth Hockey Association and volunteered as a coach and taught about one hundred kids, including two of his own sons, Preston and Paxton how to skate.
A year later, Travis was nominated and voted in as RYHA’s President. Since then he has led the Rome Grizzlies through a very difficult time for Youth Hockey and for that leadership and enduring spirit, we present Mr. Chip Travis with the Adirondack Bank 12th Man Award.
Chip Travis lived and played the sport he loves, hockey, through the early 1980′s, some of the many glory years in Rome sports history.
Travis grew up as a three sport athlete. He was a member of the Red Wings football and baseball teams and certainly played hockey before graduation from Rome Catholic High in 1986.
He played hockey for Hall of Fame coach Bill Fleet and to this day has a strong personal relationship with his old coach.
The Travis family name is synonymous with success in both athletics and academics in Rome and their strong family foundation was built around sports, to be sure.
Chip, along with his brother Justin, a hockey player at Rome Free Academy and sister Amanda, a Rome Sports Hall of Fame inductee and two sport athlete at RFA and Colgate University, where she was a scholarship softball player, owe much of their successes to their parents, George and Pat.
“My parents were our support system, they made sure we had everything we needed, they often went without so that we could play the sports we loved,” Travis said, adding, “I remember once my brother needed goalie pads, so instead of my Mom getting a living room set, my brother got the pads he needed from Canada, that’s just what my parents did for us, it was amazing.”
Travis went on to play football at St. John Fisher College before returning home to Rome, where he resides today with his sons, Paxton 12, and Preston, 15.
The same support his parents, coaches and volunteers gave the Rome hockey community when he was a kid, Chip Travis has been trying to “pay forward” for the kids in Rome today and those of tomorrow.
Seeing the need to get kids interested in hockey again is no easy task. It is a tough game to play, compared to most.
Is there any other sport that requires hand eye coordination, physical fitness and athleticism, all while you’re moving on two edges that are 1/8 of an inch thick, over ice?
No, there are no such sports with these demands. For the kids that decide to take on the challenge of playing hockey, the rewards can be limitless and the life experiences fantastic.
Unfortunately, sports like hockey, which take time and effort to learn, are losing ground to other organized activities which are gaining in popularity and steering kids in other directions.
With the cost of ice time and equipment forever on the rise, Travis and the board members of the Rome Youth Hockey now offer free equipment to new players, very low rates to join the “Learn to Play” program and very affordable plans to pay for a winter’s worth of great times.
“Even if a player can’t afford the participation fees, we have donors that are willing to help and we are more than willing to make arrangements with folks to pay over time, if you want your child to play hockey in Rome, he or she can play for sure,” Travis told MHTS.
Rome Youth Hockey is also behind a new USA Hockey initiative which encourages kids to get back to playing other sports, thus recreating and staying active in the “off season”.
Another area of concern to Travis, and others involved in youth sports, is the trend to have kids specializing in just one sport from a young age. Travis says,
“This is a costly mistake.” He adds, “There are kids 4 and 5 years old playing just one sport year round and that is doing a lot to burn those kids out by the time they’re teenagers.”
Specialization in one sport is also having a negative impact on the numbers of young athletes who normally take part in “seasonal” sports that are played throughout the year.
Our latest 12th man is very appreciative of all of the coaches and numerous volunteers who work so hard to make the RYHA a better place.
( Ph0t0-Jeff Pexton-PGI)
Folks like John Corr Sr., Bob Miller, Tom and Karen Netzband and Al and Sandy Williams are just a few of the volunteers Travis has counted on to go above and beyond for the Grizzlies.
“It is getting more and more difficult to get people to volunteer and we’ve been very lucky to have the people that work so hard,” Travis commented.
Travis is also very proud of the accomplishments of the hundreds of local hockey players he has helped mentor over the years and is thrilled by the progress they have made as hockey players and as members of the Rome community.
Travis went on to say, ”What I really enjoy most are the thank you’s and being remembered as “coach” by kids who are now becoming young men. There’s just something about having a kid that you taught to skate or coached years ago stop and say hi coach, or boy that season was great, that’s the kind of thing that keeps me coming back,” Travis said.
Travis spoke fondly of the accomplishments of one of his former Grizzlie players, Jonathon Smalden. Smalden was one of just four recipients in New York State to receive a USA Hockey partial tuition academic scholarship, which he used at Niagara University, from which he recently graduated.
Chip was also very proud to learn that fellow volunteer Bob Miller was the recipient of the prestigious Tom Karpolinski Memorial Award, which is given annually to the best Youth Hockey volunteer in New York State.
The 14U Girls Grizzlies team that won the National Championship in 2011 is also something that brings a smile to Chip’s face.
One of the most memorable seasons in Chip’s tenure with the Grizzlies was one he spent with his son Preston’s squirt team. “There was just something about that team, that time, most of the kids are playing for RFA or other teams now and that group was just special,” Travis explained, adding, “For me, the biggest reward from doing this has been the extra time with my two boys, from the practices, to the games, to the rides home to the meals before and after, these memories make everything worth it”.
( Photo-Jeff Pexton-PGI)
Some of the things Travis won’t miss whenever he decides to step away from his post with the league will be losing sleep at night over other people’s kids as well as the constant attention to emails and phone calls which usually bring with them issues, problems or more dreaded paperwork!
Just a few examples of what can take its toll on a youth sports league President.
Going forward, Chip Travis hopes that more and more kids return to the great game of hockey and that organizations such as Rome Youth Hockey find a way to impress on young hockey players just how much fun the game can be.
He also wants to get the word to parents and families to not to be intimidated by hockey’s cost, adding, “When you break it down, it costs about four dollars an hour to have your child play hockey during the winter here. We are making this as affordable as possible and we hope more people see this.”
For all you have done and all you continue to do for the kids of Rome, New York, we salute you Chip Travis!
Congratulations on being the newest member of the 12th Man Award club.