When Barry Trotz was the Nashville Predators head coach, he would always look for unique ways to foster team chemistry and increase competitiveness in training camps.
One of those meaningful, team-building experiences was regularly bringing in speakers affiliated with the military and the staff at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. That’s where Trotz formed a close relationship with Major General Clay Hutmacher who commanded the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at the time.
“Barry brought the team up twice to do team-building events when he was the coach of the Predators,” Hutmacher said. “We hosted them, we put them through some challenging events to promote teamwork and encourage dynamic decision making, especially for the younger players. From that Barry and I and his entire family grew to be friends. It’s been a very, very dear friendship to me. I have nothing but the deepest respect for Barry as a person and his character, leadership and humility, frankly are inspiring.”
Now that Trotz has moved to the general manager role and Hutmacher retired to serve as the President and CEO of Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the next evolution of their friendship will extend to not only Preds players, but to fans and active military members and their families.
The Preds will host the Gold Star Showcase, an intrasquad game between Predators players benefiting the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, at F&M Bank Arena on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m.
Tickets for the Gold Star Showcase are currently on sale via Ticketmaster.com.
The military-themed contest will recognize the facility’s proximity to Fort Campbell and incorporate members of the military in the team’s game presentation. A portion of all ticket sales will be donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a nonprofit organization that empowers families of fallen Special Operations personnel and service members awarded the Medal of Honor.
Guided by a shared goal of giving back to the military community, the collaboration between Trotz and Hutmacher has always focused on shared values and investing in a meaningful relationship with the community.
What makes the latest venture between the Preds and the military community special is how the Gold Star Showcase gives fans an opportunity to give back, as well as enjoy NHL hockey in a new, state-of-the-art venue.
“I have three sons, and if something had happened to me, which there were a couple times when that was definitely a possibility, I would want someone to be there for my kids and to help them with their education like this foundation helps with these kids,” Hutmacher said. “What the Predators have done, by providing this opportunity to recognize these families and the financial support that will come from this game is incredibly helpful. It reminds these families that their sacrifice for the country is not forgotten.”
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation was born out of a battlefield promise made in April 1980. During Operation Eagle Claw, eight service members were killed and the remaining service members promised to provide support for the 17 children of the fallen soldiers. Since then, the foundation has grown to provide educational and family support for children of fallen Special Operations personnel and Medal of Honor recipients. They also provide financial assistance to severely wounded or injured Special Operations personnel.
“To have the opportunity to serve our families in such a meaningful and impactful capacity is incredibly satisfying for me,” Hutmacher said. “To have the support of the Nashville Predators in such a meaningful way really means the world to me personally and to our families, and we are forever grateful.”
To learn more about the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, visit specialops.org.