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Steel players spend time volunteering in New Ulm

NEW ULM — Most fans of the New Ulm Steel NA3HL team see the players most of not all of the time on the ice during games.

But the 29 players on the Steel roster do a lot more than just play games on the weekend and practice every weekday.

They are out and about in New Ulm and becoming part of the community.

“With myself coming in as head coach it has taken a little longer to get things rolling,” first-year Steel head coach Zach Stepan said. “We just did an orientation with the Kids Connection After School program [a school-age child care program for students in grades K-6] so are having all of our players going through the background checks. We are waiting to get them back,” Stepan said. “Once that is done our players will start volunteering. Then they will go to the schools Monday through Wednesday with four players going to two different schools.”

The Steel players have also started orientation with Oak Hills Living Center.

“We started this week going there sending four players every Tuesday and Thursday when we are done with practice,” Stepan said. “We will go and play games with the residents there. Those are the things that we will do every week during the season.”

Steel players also help the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce with set-ups for wedding shows and takedowns.

“We also help at the Green Mill — when you have 29 guys to help it goes a lot faster. When people ask for help we have no problem helping.”

Stepan said that the Public Relation side for the New Ulm Steel is big.

“From my standpoint regarding the players it is good for them to get out in the community and out of their comfort zone. For the guys who are out-going it is super easy for them. So getting out of a comfort zone and learning how to socialize — especially in this day and age where technology has kind of taken over — and be off of their video games for two hours a week.”

Stepan said that the residents of Oak Hills “were excited about it because the players come up and play games with them. It gives the residents a chance to socialize with players. The residents that we have met are pretty excited about it so hopefully that will spread throughout Oak Hills.”

The Steel (2-2-0-0) continue their season on the road again Saturday when they travel to Willmar (4-0-0-1). They open at home next Thursday when they host Alexandria at 7:10 p.m. and then host Coulee Region Friday at 7:10 p.m. before heading to LaCrosse, Wisconsin on Sunday to meet Coulee Region there.

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