The Traverse City prospect tournament and main Red Wings training camp at Centre ICE Arena are staffed entirely by volunteers, and those volunteers give up their vacation time for two weeks’ worth of working for free every year at this time. The Traverse City Record-Eagle’s James Cook spoke with several members of the security team regarding their working vacations:
[Aaron] Case and five of his fellow Kent County officers are on duty — while off duty — enforcing policies of the Red Wings, NHL and Centre Ice to maintain a safe and efficient environment inside and outside the rink. And they do it all for free, each using two weeks of accrued vacation to make a two-hour trip north to Traverse City and camp out while guarding camp.
“Safety and security for everyone is first and foremost,” said Case, who stays in an RV at nearby Timber Ridge Resort, making for a short three-minute commute.
The security detail of 20-25 — part of around 200 Prospect Tournament and training camp volunteers total, Centre Ice rink manager Todd Spaulding said — often works from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. during the Prospect Tournament, with shorter days for training camp.
Security arrives an hour before an events begin, with Case commonly already in the building a half hour before that.
“I don’t hunt, so it’s kind of like deer camp for me,” said Patrick Stewart, a 39-year-old Kent County Sheriff’s Deputy in his 21st year on the force, while manning the front entrance to Center Ice Arena.