716 Sports Podcast is excited to announce Buffalo Beauts’ Director of Operations, Linda Groff-Mroz, will be contributing her behind-the-scenes perspective on the 2016-17 season.


 

Trick or Treat, smell my feet – I’ll give you a high five if you even dare to smell my skates. If any of you know me, you know Halloween is my favorite holiday. It was my grandfather’s birthday, it’s spooky and creepy and loads of fun - especially now that I am a mum. I’m raising my boys right: ghouls, goblins, scary movies, oh my! Halloween was great this year, the weather was a bit chilly but it didn’t snow, so that is ALWAYS a plus. 
My kids made out like bandits with candy…a Wegmans reusable bag was half full! A few Beauts came trick-or-treating with us as well. Kelsey Neumann dressed as a Penguin and Amanda LeVeille gutted and disemboweled a giant teddy bear and walked around as a stuffed bear. There was a slight problem with the head though...she couldn’t see through it! The head of the bear rested between her shoulder blades – it was perfect! 

My son Riley dressed as the Grim Reaper and Cooper went as a cop.

Did I dress up? Come on now, of course I did…my standard vampire, however, this year I was able to rock a Mohawk and glittery makeup.
November 1 came quickly, that’s for sure. Halloween decorations are already taken down and my Thanksgiving décor is already up – I have a nice size bay window and I decorate with fake pumpkins and turkey decoys.
 It’s been...one week since the Beauts have hosted a game due to the 4 Nations Cup, and I’ve been tracking our three Beauts on facebook. Let’s go USA!!
November 12 is approaching quickly and that is one of the games that means just a little bit more to me than any of the other games – our Military Appreciation game. Why you might ask? While I did not serve, I did contemplate joining the service after I graduated from Niagara. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life post graduation. (Oh who am I kidding – I’m almost 36 years old and I still don’t know what my major is OR what I want to be when I grow up.) 
Military runs in my blood. My grandfather was in the Navy during World War II. He was serving on a submarine in the Sea of Japan when the bomb went off on Hiroshima. He said that it took 24 hours to get through as they heard the chains rattling off the sub as they slowly made their way through the Sea of Japan. Navy? Would love to make my grandfather proud of me, but I am NOT a huge fan of boats and have a major case of claustrophobia, so being a submarine...yeah...not for me. My other grandfather was Army and my mum’s stepdad, Grandpa John to me, was Air Force. What it really boiled down to was that I could not make the commitment and I was scared to death. 
My mum was a nurse at the VA. I volunteered at the hospital when I had moments free or when I went to visit my mum. The things that I saw being around the veterans, I think it takes someone of extreme character to handle the demands of being a soldier. A part of me wonders what kind of soldier I could have been and then there is the part of me that thinks that if I made the commitment, I would have been a lifetime warrior and would have made a career out of the military.
I have an unbelievable amount of respect for those who put their life on the line for our country’s freedom. I stand for our National Anthem and do not move until the song is over; I stare at our flag and sing along to the song and when the song is completed I always say “Thank you for your service”. I have raised my sons to say “Thank you for your service” when they see a man or woman in uniform. I was getting lunch last week and a soldier in his greens was behind me. I turned and thanked him for his service and bought his lunch – he told me that I did not have to do that, and I told him it was the least that I could do for his courage and commitment to our country.


I was fortunate enough last year during Military Appreciation to become friends with Sergeant Major Jason Jaskula, who is not only Army, but runs K.I.A, which is the organization so graciously sponsors Krusher. Jaskula and I have coordinated throughout the year to not only promote the Beauts, and K.I.A Memorial Road March, but also help Buffalo’s Gold Star Moms chapter during the holiday season. 
Over the summer I competed in my first K.I.A Memorial Road March – I stuffed 40 pounds of food in a ruck sack and marched up and down the hills of Chestnut Ridge…Kelsey Neumann and I represented the Beauts and finished just under 2 hours, not bad for my first 10K! It was an unbelievable experience and I am already looking to have a PLATOON next year to compete in the challenges and walk away with some trophies! For more information please visit their facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/KIAroadmarch/?fref=ts


I was able to make friends and learn about the various organizations that help with veterans. Dog Tags is a great organization that places service dogs with veterans. Their mission is to heal the veteran who has seen unbelievable sights and heal the rescued animal who has lost trust and faith in humans. I was so fortunate to learn about Dog Tags of New York and become friends with a few of the veterans, who just so happen to be hockey players as well, listened to their stories and what they have not only survived but their road to recovery is remarkable. For more information please vist their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DogTagsNewYork/about/
So this year you can expect the same (well...with a little more flare!) The NWHL has partnered with United Heroes League, so bring in some old hockey equipment to donate to their cause on November 12. On the 13th, please bring a canned food that will go to Gold Star Moms as they hand out to veterans during the holiday. And let’s not forget Krusher’s birthday party and our annual teddy bear toss – bring in a new or gently used teddy bear (or toy) and when the Beauts score, we are chucking the animals onto the ice. They will be given to Gold Star Moms to hand out at Christmas time to veterans families. You can do your share, let’s celebrate the brave men and women who serve our country. Every little bit counts.


Be sure to join the Buffalo Beauts as they honor our men and women who have served the United States.