A Vision Attained: PSU Ice Arena Advocate Merle Schotanus to Drop Puck at First Hockey Game Nov. 6

October 27th, 2010 by Adam

Few people dream big, and even fewer actually see ambitious dreams fulfilled. When former University System of New Hampshire Trustee Merle Schotanus drops the ceremonial puck at the first hockey game at PSU’s Ice Arena November 6, it will mark the culmination of years of work on behalf of a major project that will benefit the region and the state. Schotanus, a Grantham resident and longtime New Hampshire lawmaker, was instrumental in moving the $16 million, state-of-the-art arena forward, beginning six years ago when he realized the potential for such a facility after meeting with then PSU President Donald P. Wharton.

Merle Schotanus
Merle Schotanus

“We had breakfast, and [Wharton] pulled out a puck and put it on the table, and then he said, ‘You help us build an ice rink, and I‘ll see to it you drop the puck at the first game,’ ” recalled Schotanus, who, at the time, was chair of the USNH Capital Projects subcommittee.

The timing could not have been better, because at the time PSU was just beginning to discuss the concept of the ALLWell (Active Living, Learning and Wellness) Center, which would replace the existing PE Center (constructed in 1968) and integrate, on one site, academics, athletics, and recreation to better achieve the educational purposes of Plymouth State University.

The ice arena model eventually was developed within the ALLWell plan, and current PSU President Sara Jayne Steen met with Schotanus to enlist his support for a building that was an ice arena and more, influencing teaching, research, community programming, and economic development. Schotanus saw the value in a new ice arena, and not just from an athletics point-of-view.

“I remember thinking of it as an economic development project,” said Schotanus. “Plymouth is strategically located for New Hampshire’s North Country – make it as the gateway to the North Country.”

The immediate problem was funding, and the Board of Trustees was supportive.
“We didn’t want to lose the momentum to build it,” noted Schotanus. “I told them, ‘the folks at PSU are charged and ready to go; let’s put it to a vote’–and we got a unanimous decision.”

PSU Ice Arena
PSU Welcome Center and Ice Arena

The Ice Arena was completed this past July. The 850-seat Hanaway Rink serves as a teaching facility for instruction and research in ice activities and health and wellness, a home for Panther varsity men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, and a site for student recreation as well as community skating. Its geothermal design makes it one of the most energy efficient and modern ice arenas in the world. It also features the Eugene and Joan Savage Welcome Center with an expansive lobby and facilities that provide an attractive meeting place for prospective students, parents, and visitors to the campus and towns of Plymouth and Holderness and the wider region of New Hampshire. Steen is grateful for Schotanus’s efforts in moving the process forward.

“Merle was a leader who saw what this building could mean for the Lakes Region and North Country in terms of everything from workforce development in health and wellness to impact on tourism and the economy,” said Steen.

Schotanus has high hopes for the facility, believing the positive economic impact will underscore the University’s role in serving the region.

“It’s always been a great idea,” Schotanus said. “I look forward to it fulfilling its role in attracting people to the area and reinforcing Plymouth State’s critical part in education and service to the state and region.”

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or blyndes@plymouth.edu