Andy Clark is the ultimate team player for Eagle County youth
The man behind the outdoor ice rink in Eagle Town Park is community-driven in everything he does
Special to the Daily
Andy Clark is full of love for all things youth and for all things community. He uses his successful business platform to give and then give some more. He is remarkably passionate about advocating for youth and does so in an extraordinarily humble way. If you are lucky enough to know Clark, you know what I am talking about.
People are drawn to Clark because of his big heart, accepting personality, and supportive soul. He grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, playing hockey on the ice of his backyard pond with his three siblings and countless friends. He went on to be an All-American at Saint John’s University in Minnesota and was then invited to try out for the 1988 United States Olympic team. He ultimately moved to Vail and joined the semi-pro Vail Mountaineers in the late 1980s.
Clark hosted the Red Wings Alumni for 20 years in our community, with a summer camp, and a winter hockey series as well. This experience helped raise over $190,000 for youth hockey in our valley. These seedlings are what began a career of giving for Clark.
For almost 30 years, Clark led the Vail Junior Hockey Club, the Vail Eagle Hockey Association, WECRMD programs, Battle Mountain hockey, was a VMHC Board Member and a “Master Level Coach” all while growing many other hockey-related programs in Eagle County. He developed and grew the Rocky Pond Hockey Championships at Nottingham Lake, now being held at Eagle Town Park.
This outdoor hockey tournament is open to everyone: young or old — every age group comes together for a weekend of fun — no coaches allowed. The best part of this weekend is that adults and kids get to rediscover what a great game is when the competition is not about the score, but about the fun. Clark created this culture. And of course, all proceeds benefit Battle Mountain hockey activities.
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Over the years of living in Eagle County, it became very clear to Clark that not all families had access to youth activities outside of school. He knew he had the ability to help. In the early 1990s, Clark worked with Tom Aronberg and WECMRD to start the first recreational youth hockey program in the valley. This league was affordable and grew in size each year.
Ultimately, the growth of the league helped create momentum for the building of the Eagle Ice Rink. Creating opportunities for youth to feel like they belong to a group and community is important to Clark. Currently, he feels that we have made progress but there is still work to be done to lessen the barriers to access and inclusion.
The resume and accomplishments could easily go on and on; however, what Andy is most proud of and our community benefits from the most to this day, and will for many, many years into the future is the culture and community that he has created at the Eagle Town Park outdoor rink. He has engaged a truly amazing group of volunteers and town staff that show up day after day to build, maintain, stock and play at the Eagle Town Park outdoor rink.
Long, cold winter days can sometimes feel lonely. Go to Eagle Town Park and you will be surrounded by a healthy community of families out having good, clean fun — all for free, together. Clark’s business, Alliance Moving Systems, takes care of all of the expenses and storage of all of the rink materials. Each November, the day after Thanksgiving, a group of volunteers set up the two rinks and begins flooding them (weather permitting). Once the ice surface is ready around mid-December, the rinks will open. Clark always makes sure that there is plenty of free equipment for skating, hockey and building a fire in the outdoor fire pits. This is the most wonderful way to spend time together in the winter with friends and families.
For the past fifteen years, Alliance Moving Systems has been involved in the Home to Home donation program. Alliance receives donated furniture and content from clients and these items are then available at no cost to families and organizations in need. Furniture that has not been placed with families throughout the year is brought out each summer for a garage sale and all the revenue is given to a local church or charity. The wonderful part of the Home to Home program is that there is no money exchanged. The donated items go from a generous client’s home to a deserving family or organization.
A recent addition at the Alliance warehouse provides a venue for nonprofits, groups and young adults to gather in a unique venue in a fun, safe environment. The addition is called The Downvalley Attic and it is a 1,800 square-foot gathering spot with a foosball table, pool table, kitchen, bathroom, music/performing stage, including full audio and an 88-inch big-screen TV. Below the Downvalley Attic on the second floor is my son Max’s music studio, called Maxed Out Studios. This music studio is also part of the unique part of the warehouse with a second-floor music studio with a third Floor “Attic” venue. Church groups, young adult groups, as well as sports/teams have enjoyed the space. The goal is to rent the space to business groups and private parties so that nonprofits and youth groups can use it for little to no charge throughout the year.
Andy’s main motivation for his professional work is to have a successful company that can give back to the community. Business owners have to be more than profit-driven, and he believes they must be community-driven also.
He states: “There are great businesses that are supporting youth organizations every year, but imagine if all businesses got involved in youth programming? I encourage everyone to look at their own place of employment and see how they can become part of the solution to lower youth activity program costs and increase opportunities for our kids. It doesn’t take a lot — just a vision and some teamwork.”
The advice Andy wants to share with young people is that they have opportunities in their future, whether it is here in our valley or after they graduate. They need to know that they can find a path that starts with participation in organizations, sports teams, or activities outside of school that can help give them confidence and skills. His vision for improving opportunities in Eagle County would be a youth community center in the Avon/Edwards area for kids as well as a downvalley community center in Eagle/Gypsum. Young people need a venue where they can be safe, choose activities that improve their skills and get them to lead a more active lifestyle.
Clark’s biggest motivators were three extremely humble people in the valley, each of them modeling what it means to give back and support the community. Clark goes on to say “Bob Doyle of Bob’s Place is one of the most generous people I know. He helped me understand that a business is just an extension of a community and that we better be good at taking care of our community. Glen Heelan, owner of Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall in Avon, also showed me how to get other businesses involved in the vision of community events. And lastly, Pat Hiln is one of the most generous and selfless people; without Pat’s support and guidance, so many youth would not have had the opportunities that they enjoyed so much. Each of these men were really important in helping me find my way in the valley”.
Clark has impacted thousands of lives throughout the many years he has coached, advocated, funded and supported youth. He prioritizes genuinely listening, always follows through on his word, and will never stop being an advocate and giving back to make this community great. Not only are we grateful for Andy, but it is our hope that other businesses will be inspired by his giving.
Come join Andy Clark and friends with a smile and a pair of work gloves on Friday, Nov. 25, when they begin setting up the Eagle Town Park outdoor ice rink.