Copper Country native and long-time member of the local hockey community, Dave Wiitanen, has earned the William Thayer Tutt Award from USA Hockey. The award is presented to a volunteer who, during many years of service, has displayed selfless dedication to the enhancement of ice hockey at the grassroots level in the United States.Wiitanen has been involved in the hockey scene in the Houghton area since 1963, when he began coaching local youth hockey and joined the association's board. He was involved in growing the Copper Country Junior Hockey Association to more than 600 youth, building the area's second indoor ice rink (Houghton County Arena), re-activating local high school hockey. He was elected president of the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association in 1969-70 and launched an endowment called the Copper Country Hockey Youth Fund to make hockey more affordable for local kids."Dave Wiitanen is a tremendous asset to the hockey community in the Copper Country," said Michigan Tech hockey coach Mel Pearson. "His efforts have been invaluable to the area's youth. You can just see his passion for the game."At Michigan Tech, Wiitanen was employed for 30 years in the facilities management department, retiring in 1993. He was a member of both the Michigan Tech Blue Line Club and the Huskies Club, serving on the board of both organizations. In 1988, he was awarded the Clare M. Donovan Award for service to Michigan Tech students."Dave Wiitanen has been instrumental in the development and advancement of hockey at all levels in the Copper Country," said Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret. "There is not a more deserving person to receive this award. Congratulations Dave!"
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