When it comes to growing the game, American Development Model regional managers will go to great heights. Just ask Scott Paluch.
One minute he’s organizing an ADM clinic at Cleland ice rink at Ft. Bragg N.C., and the next he’s jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.
It’s probably not what Paluch envisioned when he left his head coaching post at Bowling Green State University to help launch USA Hockey’s revolutionary skill development program, but it turned out to be the thrill of a lifetime.
“It was one of those things where it was like, ‘How do I let these guys know that I don’t like heights and this isn’t something that was on my bucket list?’ ” Paluch said.
“But if there were a chance to do it again I would’ve done it. It was that cool.”
Spoken like a man with both feet planted firmly on terra firma. It was only days earlier when the invitation came to make the tandem jump that Paluch began searching for a suitable excuse. As he thought of the sacrifices these military members and their families go through on a daily basis, he knew he couldn’t ground the idea.
“If there was a chance to do it again I would’ve done it. It was that cool.”
“These are the guys we thank on a daily basis,” he said. “I just knew that I couldn’t let them down.”
Joining Paluch on the jump was U.S. Olympian Gigi Marvin, who was on the base to help with the clinic and charity game involving Defending the Blue Line, a non-profit group created to bring hockey to military members and their families.
After a quick briefing at the jump site, Paluch and Marvin filed into a prop plane with their tandem jumpers, a videographer and several others. As they climbed to their destination of 13,500 feet, the reality of what was about to happen started to sink in.
“Those last five minutes of climbing was really when you’re asking yourself what are you doing up here,” Paluch said.
Moments later he and Sgt. Jared Zell, his tandem jumper, were soaring a quarter mile above the green fields of North Carolina.
“In that first second that you jump, you can’t even remember it but once you go into your free fall it is the greatest thing,” he said. “It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
Still amped up from their jump, Paluch and Marvin were later joined on the ice by Carolina Hurricane defenseman Jamie McBain for an ADM clinic for 50 youngsters from the Cape Fear Youth Hockey League followed by a charity hockey game that pitted base personnel against members of the Defending the Blue Line crew.
Now that he’s earned his wings, Paluch said his next challenge is convincing friends that his high-flying feat was not just some flight of fancy.
“I’m glad there are pictures,” he said, “because not many people believe me.”