Hal Stern volunteers as a board member, head manager and team manager with the New Jersey Devils youth hockey club. His volunteer duties cover all aspects of running a large youth sports program, from budget analysis and team modeling in the spring to recruiting and training new team managers. Hal uses his skills as a systems engineer on cold, winter weekend mornings, when he’s called on to do everything from provide driving directions to unmarked ice rinks to improvise emergency hockey pants belts or chin straps when something breaks in the locker room. As the manager of the New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey Club "Pee Wee B" team, he insists that his job is to keep everyone smiling through the whole season. Between September and April, he volunteers approximately 25-30 hours a month working with parents, coaches, team managers and youth players. He also works with the DareDevils, a special needs hockey program.
In addition to scheduling games, maintaining statistics and communicating weekly with the parents and the club, Hal is also the "off-ice official" for his team on Saturday afternoons, running the scorer’s table during home games or giving lessons to new team managers for doing the same. In between his own team’s work, Hal picks up board duties including registering beginner players and analyzing the club’s financials and budget. Hal has also spent several years as a board member, coach and volunteer with the Livingston National Little League, and says that he has adopted the philosophy of Willie Stargell, the Pittsburgh Pirates captain who used to say "It is supposed to be fun, the man says 'Play ball' not 'Work ball.'" Hal has adopted this philosophy in coaching, managing and handling conflicts with parents. He says the youth players remember if they’ve had fun much longer than they remember the score of a game or who played well and who did not. “I’m also a strong believer in diversity through youth sports,” he says. “I’ve had players of Russian, Korean and Nigerian families on my teams, and through the DareDevils we’re able to offer hockey opportunities to athletes with autism and other special needs."