BRATTLEBORO -- Tom Bodett can't think of a single thing he'd rather do on a weekend than sit and watch his son and his teammates play hockey.
"It's an amazing game that takes an incredible amount of athleticism," said Bodett. "It's the the speed of it that makes it so much fun to watch."
Leo Bodett becomes a Squirt this year, the 10-year-old-and-under division of the BHA, or Brattleboro Hockey Association. His oldest son, Ben, played youth hockey for some time, but decided to trade in his skates for planks, as he prefers to ski. "They are both very talented and have a natural ability people love to watch," said Bodett.
As the organization's vice president, Bodett has been involved with BHA for the past four years, and he said he enjoys the work, which is all volunteer-driven.
"I feel like we (BHA) are kind of invisible," said Bodett. "That's something that, since I've been involved in the leadership of the association, have really been trying to change."
Bodett was at Nelson Withington Skating Facility over the weekend -- the spot where BHA's Hockey Equipment Sale and Swap will take place on Saturday, Sept. 7, starting at 10 a.m.
The annual event will include registration for the upcoming season, a sale on gear, and a swap. "People can bring their used equipment, swap it for new stuff, or pick out pads and skates, for little money," said Bodett, who is responsible for helping to organize such events.
And the work's paid off, according to Bodett. "We signed up about 40 young ones last year," he said.
Right now there's no ice at the Living Memorial Park complex, just a cold concrete floor. But come Oct. 25, that all changes. "That will be our first day of ice," said Bodett.
Sept. 7 will also coincide with Brattleboro Memorial Hospital's Touch-a-Truck event, one of the hospital's main annual fundraisers. The skating facility's ice resurfacer, or Zamboni, will be on display that day for kids to interact with.
No, Bodett won't be driving the famed big blue machine down from Memorial Park Drive to Belmont Avenue that day, as much as he'd like to. Instead, DJ's Truck Services and Repair of Guilford will haul the rig to its final Touch-a-Truck destination.
As an author, radio personality, and official spokesman for Motel 6 ["...we'll leave the light on for you."] Bodett said he sometimes uses his celebrity if it helps boost the association. Now he says he'd like to gain some notoriety pertaining to all the work he's done in preparation for September's event.
"We're trying to get as many kids involved this year as we can," he said. "Anyone can come by, grab a stick, and shoot a puck. The idea is to get BHA out in front of the public, so people understand who we are, how much fun we have, and how great our programs are for kids. There is a lot of good programs in the area: Greenfield, Amherst, Saxtons River, Keene. Everybody wants to skate in Brattleboro if they can, but the problem is that if the town doesn't have a team, they're going to go somewhere else."
The USA Hockey association sponsors many BHA programs, including "Free Days", which begins in early November. It's a chance for kids to try out the sport for the first time, to see if they're interested, and a way to get anyone who wants to play, out on the ice.
For first time this year, BHA will be starting a house league, though no age groups have been determined.
"Our philosophy is that if there is a kid out there who wants to get on the ice, we don't want time or money to be barriers for them," said Bodett, referring to scholarship programs BHA offers. "If they want to play, we'll figure out a way to get them skating."
David Aquino can be reached at daquino@
reformer.com, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.