A season of struggle just got tougher for the Ontonagon Youth Hockey Association. Slow business already cost them half of their players as families moved out of town, and now another problem will cost the organization thousands of dollars. Treasurer Anne Pollard allegedly embezzled over $10,000 of their hard-earned funds.
"It's just, it's really hard to basically even talk about," said association president, Scott Somero. "I mean it's something that we never expected along with all the setbacks that we had. It was iffy whether we were going to be able to have teams."
The season was on ice, and just when they were ready to quit, neighbors helped them get back in the game, donating thousands of dollars.
"Due to the community's support, we're able to actually have a season this year," Somero said. "There's a few big contributors in Ontonagon--the businesses, the people--that's the only way we could make a go this year."
With only two players on their Bantam division, Ontonagon has co-oped with Keweenaw Bay's. Together, they are working to win games and protect dollars.
"I just think it makes us aware that it could happen anywhere, so there's just a little bit more accountability in every association, even the tiniest ones," said Keweenaw Bay Hockey Association volunteer, Amy Lake.
"This year we're requiring two signatures on our checks; one of those signatures is mine as the president, and we have the secretary making the other," Somero said.
While the Ontonagon Area Hockey Association says that this season won't be too severely impacted by the alleged embezzlement, they said next year could see some problems if they don't earn some money pretty quickly. No word on whether or not they will get back any of the money they lost just yet.