By JERAMY STOVER, Staff Reporter
One cool September night, the University of Michigan-Dearborn Fieldhouse doors finally opened for business. The first home hockey game of the season is the one everyone looks forward to — the players and fans especially, but also the workers behind the scenes, who help make a special event, like opening night, happen.
“There’s always more people,” said Nick Matta, a junior at UM-Dearborn, who works in the Fieldhouse.
With the Fieldhouse not having power last week, workers, like Matta, were not able to work, but it didn’t play too big of a role in setting up for opening night. The ice looked beautiful while being preserved by a generator.
Marc Casey is in his third year of working at the Fieldhouse. A Fieldhouse worker is trained to do a number of things, including working the concession stand, the volleyball scorer’s table, and even driving the zamboni, as Casey did Friday.
“There’s a lot of learning on the fly,” Casey said.
With the UM-Dearborn volleyball team also playing at the Fieldhouse this weekend, it puts some staff members on double duty.
Danny Blacker, who also said he did “everything” as a Fieldhouse worker, started the night at the scorer’s table for the volleyball game, before making his way over to the ice rink. Blacker is also in his third year working at the Fieldhouse and is an experienced zamboni driver. When resurfacing the ice, the driver must know when and how much water to pump onto the ice in order to keep it smooth and level.
“It’s easy to drive,” said Blacker. “Knowing when to pump water is the hard part.”
Not every job for the Fieldhouse workers are planned out for the night.
During the hockey game, one of the glass boards that separates fans from players broke apart from its stanchion. Blacker and his coworkers immediately went to work trying to fix the glass in a quick fashion so the game could continue. It’s these types of impromptu missions that keep the workers on their toes at all times.
All the workers expressed excitement for UM-Dearborn hockey’s opening night, as it is usually the biggest crowd of the year.
Assistant Athletic Director, Bryan Earl, was even impressed by the crowd. When asked what makes opening night special, he simply pointed to the crowd and said, “that.” Earl expressed hope that the large crowds remain for every home game.
For the staff members of the Fieldhouse, UM-Dearborn hockey’s opening night was a success. The concession stand was kept busy between periods, serving everyone beverages and snacks. The bleachers were filled from the first minute of the game to the last. And when the only problem of the night arose, a glass board being broken, the workers fixed it swiftly to perfection.
It’s the people behind the scenes who deserve the biggest thanks. Without them, nights like these couldn’t happen.