The United States Hockey League today announced that Waterloo Black Hawks forward Derek Arnold has been named the recipient of the USHL Curt Hammer Award
The Curt Hammer Award has been presented annually since the 1988-89 season in honor of the late Curt Hammer, and honors the USHL player who distinguishes himself both on and off the ice by demonstrating outstanding performance skills, pride, and determination. The award is given in memory of the late Curt Hammer, who served as president of the Des Moines Buccaneers for three seasons (1984-87) and also held the role of secretary for the USHL.
"Derek is one of the finest human beings that I have ever had the opportunity to coach," said Waterloo Black Hawks Head Coach and General Manager P.K. O'Handley. "He is a great teammate, friend, and worker – he is what every organization wants and needs. Derek embodies everything this award represents."
Arnold recently completed his second USHL season and was fourth on the Black Hawks in scoring with 59 points (20g, 39a) in 59 regular season games while serving as alternate captain for the team. It was the second straight 20-goal season for the native of Foxboro, Massachusetts after he totaled 32 points (20g, 12a) in 52 games during the 2008-09 campaign. Arnold registered a 16-game point streak from January 30th to March 12th, compiling 29 points (16g, 13a) during that span. It was the second-longest streak in the USHL this season. Arnold will continue his hockey career at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell beginning this fall.
Off the ice, Arnold was a leader in the Waterloo community spending countless hours of his time in service activities. Prior to the start of the 2009-10 season, he created "Arnie's Army," which was an initiative to channel the enthusiasm of Waterloo's fans into a benefit for local youth. The forward, who wore #29 on his uniform, developed the concept of having wristbands and hard hats – stamped with "Arnie's Army 29" – available for purchase during the season, with all proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Black Hawk County. The Waterloo Black Hawks organization lent its support by donating the wristbands and hard hats while also providing a large quantity of tickets throughout the season to the Boys and Girls Clubs. Arnold's idea raised several thousand dollars for the cause.
"Derek's 'Arnie's Army' initiative was one of the outstanding public service efforts I've seen from any athlete at any level, much less the USHL," said USHL Commissioner Skip Prince. "But it didn't end there – this is one great young hockey player. We're looking forward to great things from Derek Arnold, both on and off the ice, for a long time to come. The Curt Hammer Award could not have been given to a finer person, or a better example of what we strive to stand for in the USHL."
Among the multiple community service projects he took part, Arnold volunteered to coach youth hockey in Waterloo. He also organized his Black Hawks teammates to serve as coaches during a fundraising youth hockey tournament this spring.
Hammer, a dedicated volunteer and supporter of hockey in the Des Moines community until succumbing to cancer in 1987, was one of the founders Hart-Hammer, Inc., a commercial heating and air conditioning ventilation equipment sales firm. The company still operates today providing extensive sales and engineering support in Iowa, Nebraska, and western Illinois. The award was established to honor his commitment to the League and the perseverance he displayed in continuing his work through hockey while battling the illness.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)