A young boy, a hockey mom’s encouraging words, a love of sport, a local rink and service to the community have all been woven together over time to create an entrepreneurial vision that is born of hockey but committed to so much more in the Washington D.C. area and beyond.
Saint Anselm freshman forward Will Rosen was born and raised in the southeast section of the nation’s capital and as young boy was drawn to the sport of ice hockey. Living in “SE,” as it is known, meant lacing them up at the district’s only indoor ice facility, Ft. Dupont. The arena was built in the mid-1970s and has been largely supported and managed by a non-profit organization that provides skating and hockey opportunities to over an estimated 3,500 local youths in the D.C. area.
“It is pretty crazy to think that I am being recognized as a freshman for the HHA,” said Rosen. “Especially when the activity is such a home-grown endeavor for me and my family. I am pretty sure the very first time I was ever on skates or my first time in hockey equipment was on the ice at Ft. Dupont. It was the only place around and I as developed in the game locally either playing at Gonzaga high school for Coach Bill Slater or the INOVA Ice Dogs, that was our home rink. It was a facility that always needed support since it was run by a non-profit organization. I grew up there and I grew up with the concepts of service and giving back.
“It was words of encouragement from my mom, that became the idea for the company and a way to give back.”
Those simple words of encouragement were, “every shift is a gift.”
Rosen’s mom would send him off to every skate, practice, or game with that mantra and over the pandemic that simple phrase sparked an amazing charitable endeavor that has served the needs and aspirations of Rosen’s hometown rink as well as families needing support for playing with USA Hockey.
“During the pandemic the whole idea really came to fruition,” stated Rosen. “My mom’s phrase which is just so true even beyond the rink was something that eventually became a company moniker and clothing line that we created to raise monies for charity. It really has been a family affair with my mom, a family friend who was a lawyer that trademarked the name and helped with organizing our non-profit activities and friends in family in Minnesota that designed and made the clothing items that we sell with the ESG brand to support our charitable endeavors. Every dollar we make goes to our two principal charities of Ft. Dupont and more broadly, USA Hockey player fee support. We focused early on a plan to help Ft. Dupont get a new electric Zamboni for their rink and completed that goal with the great response we have received with online sales and promotion with social media.
“It has been crazy with the response so far and we want to keep it going so we can do more both in my hometown and beyond.”
Rosen does not come to the giving back universe without it being part of his fiber growing up in an environment where it was both practiced and expected. Starting with service activities emanating from local schools, Rosen was part of programs like Homework & Hockey to support local educational, tutoring and hockey activities for area youths. The aforementioned coach Slater along with former assistant coach and St. Anselm alumnus Ryan Holley quickly became not only coaches but friends and mentors as well.
“It is really amazing how much this has taken off,” Rosen said. “We have already surpassed our goal for the Zamboni at Ft. Dupont. We recently added the USA Hockey support for families who want to get into hockey through local programs but struggle to pay the required registration fees. The Ft. Dupont fundraising was really focused at my hometown and local needs where the US Hockey funding is intended to be broader in support of the general hockey community. As a Level 2 USA Hockey certified coach, I wanted to make sure that every player has the opportunity to engage in best learning and development on the ice.
“As we continue to grow and develop the company, we will look for additional areas in need of future support.”
Every Shift is a Gift (ESG) is a hockey-oriented clothing line that includes t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, backpacks, hats, and accessories to share the words of encouragement as well as serve as a reminder to the bigger value found in daily living. The company has a strong presence with social media and a commercial website that espouses the message and charitable goals of the organization for all to see and understand.
Rosen, who recently celebrated a NE-10 championship with his Saint Anselm teammates, continues to focus on the homegrown roots of his service to the community and love of the game.
“I have learned in hockey and in life you can’t take anything for granted,” stated Rosen. “I wanted to make some cool hockey related clothing that people would wear and buy into the belief in making the most of your opportunities, and especially after the pandemic, working through the challenges that life and the game throw at each of us. I am overwhelmed with our success to date and hope to continue to expand the charitable endeavors with increased product sales in the future.
“I really do live by those words my mom used to say to me all the time and probably appreciate them now more than ever.”