Updated: Nov 7, 2022
Andy Clark is full of LOVE for all things YOUTH and for all things COMMUNITY! Andy uses his successful business platform to generously give and then graciously 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 Andy, you know what I am talking about.
People are drawn to Andy because of his big heart, accepting personality, and supportive soul. Andy grew up in St. Paul Minnesota playing pond hockey in his backyard with his three siblings and countless friends. He went on to be an All-American hockey player at St John’s University and was then invited to try out for the 1988 US Olympic Hockey Team. He ultimately moved to Vail, and joined the semi-pro team, the Vail Mountaineers in the late 1980’s. Andy 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 endeavors are what began a career of giving for Andy Clark.
For almost 30 years, Andy led the Vail Junior Hockey Club, the Vail Eagle Hockey Association, WECRMD programs, BMHS Husky Hockey, and was a VMHC Board Member. He was also 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 the Eagle Town Park. This outdoor hockey tournament is open to everyone- young or old. Every age group comes together for a weekend of fun, with no coaches allowed. The best part of this weekend is that adults and kids get to re-discover what a great game is when competition is not about the score, but about the FUN. Andy created this culture. And of course, all proceeds benefit BMHS Husky Hockey activities.
Throughout his years of living in Eagle County, it became very clear to Andy that not all families had access to youth activities outside of school. He knew he had the ability to help. In the early 1990’s Andy 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 Indoor Ice rink, which created opportunities for youth to feel like they belong to a group and community, which is important to Andy. Currently, Andy feels that we have made progress but there is still work to be done to lessen the barriers to access and inclusion.
Andy’s 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 is the culture and community that he has created at the Eagle Town Park outdoor rink. Andy 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. But, take a trip to the Eagle Town Park and you will be surrounded by a healthy community of families out having good, clean fun – all for FREE.
Andy’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 begin flooding them (weather permitting). Once the ice surface is ready around mid-December the rinks will open. Andy 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, Andy’s company, 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 non-profits, groups, and young adults to gather in a unique venue in a fun, safe environment. The addition is called The Down Valley Attic and it is an 1,800 square foot gathering spot with a foosball table, pool table, kitchen, bathroom, music/performing stage, including full audio, and an 88" Big screen TV. Below the Down Valley Attic on the second floor is Andy's 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 3rd 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 non-profits 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, he believes they must also be community driven. Andy 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 down valley 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.
Andy’s biggest motivators were three extremely humble people in the valley, each of them modeling what it means to give back and support community. Andy 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 finding my way in the valley”.
Andy Clark has impacted thousands of lives throughout the many years he has coached, advocated, funded, and supported youth. He prioritizes genuinely listening, always following through on his word. He 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, November 25 when they begin setting up the Eagle Town Park Outdoor Ice Rink!**
Written by Denise Kipp, Director of Education with Mountain Youth, firstname.lastname@example.org