For the fifth consecutive summer, a group of friends and I took a road trip to Stevens Point, Wis., for the annual Joe Pavelski charity golf tournament. Once again, we did not leave disappointed.
Anyone who has followed my writing -- going back to my old days at the "Sixty Minutes" blog -- knows that I've been a big supporter of this event. As a quasi journalist, I'm supposed to stay impartial in my coverage. That's sometimes tough when you're covering players like Pavelski, who are just as good off the ice and in the community as they are in the slot with the puck.
Too often we hear about athletes in the news for the wrong reasons, but never for their charitable work. Pavelski is one of those people who are as genuine as it gets, and he deserves to be recognized for his work away from the rink.
Every year that we've come to the tournament, Joe has been the same humble guy. It doesn't matter that he now plays on a line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, he's still the same guy who grew up in Plover and starred for the Ice Hawks when we played each other in youth hockey. Always great with the kids, Joe consistently goes out of his way to make sure he signs every autograph and take every picture.
As usual, the tournament was a first-class event all the way around. A special shout-out needs to go to Nicki Gulan who was in charge of the tournament once again this year. She does a fantastic job of coordinating all the teams and keeping the whole tournament running smooth.
My group this year included my buddies Pat, Matt and Bryce and we actually did pretty well -- despite setting a new record for beers drank in 18 holes -- going 7-under par and placing in a four-way tie for eighth place.
After a fantastic day of golf at the beautiful Stevens Point Country Club, we were treated to an outstanding meal and reception in the dining hall. After the meal, there was a live auction and raffle. There were many generous bids, but one of my favorites was the autographed 2006 Wisconsin national championship picture that sold for $850.
The majority of the money that is raised in the event is funneled back into the Stevens Point youth hockey association. This year, one of the goals was to raise money for the formation of a junior varsity hockey program for the SPASH Panthers. As usual, Joe kicked things off himself, pledging $1,000 of his own money to get the ball rolling to kick-start the program.
After things wrapped up at the golf course, there was an official after party at the Point After bar, with a live country band on hand to perform. To no one's surprise, down-to-earth Joe Pavelski stopped by with his family, shaking hands and taking pictures with everyone who asked.
Always with a big smile on his face.
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