East Ridge boys hockey coach Dustin Vogelgesang remembers the first booster club meeting when he was hired as the Raptors head coach.
The main point on the agenda was focused on getting a locker room for varsity and junior varsity at the Cottage Grove Ice Arena.
Throughout the last five years, there has been plenty of fundraising and donations to inch closer and closer to that dream.
On Friday night, the booster club and the East Ridge boys hockey team introduced their new home.
"It's been a journey to get to this point, but now that it's here the feeling is indescribable," Vogelgesang said. "It's a dream come true for our community and our program."
It took a community effort for this locker room to actually happen, but members of the East Ridge boys hockey booster club were the leaders of this project. Specifically, Shawn Schmidt.
Schmidt was focused on special projects for the booster club. He joined about a year ago and his sole focus has been on getting this locker room completed.
It took him months to get the school board and the City of Cottage Grove to approve the project and also get enough money to pay for their part of the project.
"It's not about achieving this goal and earning the money to build this locker room," Schmidt said. "It's about how the community came together to get this project done and contribute in many different ways to give these players a new home."
The entire locker room was estimated at $400,000 and the booster club was responsible for about $300,000 to $350,000. The part of the payment that the booster club didn't pay for was the two youth locker rooms and storage space for future youth tournaments and such at the ice arena.
This new locker room has a varsity side and a junior varsity side. The two rooms are connected by a middle bathroom and shower room area.
Along with the main rooms, there are rooms for the coaches, the athletic training staff, hockey sticks and storage for events that go on at home games.
It took a wide range of effort from the staff at the ice arena to the City of Cottage Grove to the school board to the East Ridge High School staff to the community from both cities and the players on the team. None of this would've been possible without the help of every person listed.
"It's been a fun journey throughout these last five years," said Mike Pape, the president of the booster club. "It's fun to see the hard work pay off for this school and this community."
The locker room isn't completely finished, but it's just minor details that need to be completed. The hockey players are planning on moving into the room on Monday or Tuesday next week as they prepare for the second half of the season.
When East Ridge defeated Woodbury a few weeks ago, Vogelgesang focused his comments on what the win means for their program. It shows that East Ridge has a program that's based on winning and enjoying every moment of hockey.
This locker room not only cements their permanent residence at the Cottage Grove Ice Arena, but it also locks in East Ridge's future as a program with strong traditions both on and off the ice.