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 IMG_9567BY JEFF FALK

SOME PHOTOS COURTESY OF HERSHEY ENTERTAINMENT & RESORTS

No matter where one goes in the state, the athletic facilities there aren’t quite as good as they are here in central Pennsylvania. And one of the reasons everyone wants to come here – make it here, if you will – is the athletic facilities.

Or more specifically, Hershey’s.

FieldHershey is home to the greatest concentration of top-notch scholastic athletic facilities in the state. It is a fact that has especially benefited teams and student-athletes in the Lebanon, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Reading and York area for years.

The reason we have access to these first-rate facilities, the source of them, is really quite simple – Mr. Hershey, himself. Whether their efforts be conscious or subconscious, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and the Milton Hershey School continue to follow their founder’s lead of giving back to the community, through sports.

Pyles“Giving back to the community is one of the directives laid down by Mr. Hershey,” said Vikki Hultquist, the assistant general manager of attractions and entertainment for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts. “We’re just trying to follow that directive. We want to build and foster relationships with the community. Our team has always honored Milton Hershey’s vision of making Hershey a great place to live and work and play.

“Athletics are important in general,” continued Hultquist. “You see more and more activities out there, and people focusing on physical fitness. A lot of families who are coming here are juggling events. It’s a very important mix. You never seem to have enough time in a day.”

Dom“Milton Hershey School is pleased to host these competitive sporting events and open our doors to the greater community,” said Milton Hershey athletic director Cliff Ainsworth, through an e-mail sent by MHS senior media relations manager Keri Straub. “We welcome the public to our facilities, and we hope they gain a better understanding of our community and mission while enjoying sporting events.”

Mainly through Giant Center – which H.E.&R. manages but does not own – Hersheypark Stadium, Hersheypark Arena and even the former Parkview Golf Course, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts has hosted or continues to host such state-level sporting events as the PIAA football championships, the Big 33 senior all-star football game, PIAA boys’ and girls’ basketball championships, PIAA team and individual wrestling championships, PIAA boys’ and girls’ soccer championships and PIAA boys’ and girls’ lacrosse championships. But Hershey Entertainment and Resort facilities have also played host to more area and local events like the District Three football tournament, the District Three boys’ and girls’ basketball playoffs, the District Three team and individual wrestling postseasons, the District Three boys’ and girls’ soccer playoffs, the District Three boys’ and girls’ cross country championships and Hershey and Lower Dauphin high school football.

IMG_5283While Milton Hershey School’s contributions to area athletics may not be as extensive as Hershey Entertainment and Resorts’, they are significant nonetheless. Milton Hershey School’s Henry Hershey Field and Spartan Center have and continue to host such area events as the District Three and PIAA field hockey postseasons, the District Three team wrestling tournament, the District Three girls’ and boys’ soccer tournaments, the District Three girls’ and boys’ basketball playoffs and the District Three boys’ volleyball postseason.

Bottom line: championships are being contested on Milton Hershey’s old stomping grounds.

“We’ve always liked to have a wide variety of different entertainment,” said Hultquist. “It’s about scheduling. That’s a big piece of the puzzle. We’d love to have more shows and as many PIAA championships as possible. There were a couple of years when PIAA took a little bit of a hiatus from us. But we fought hard, and we won them back.

jess“Giving back is important,” Hultquist continued. “It’s vital. We speak about passion. Every one of our team members has passion to honor Mr. Hershey’s vision. Our core purpose is the Milton Hershey School and helping under privileged kids. It’s such a special story. It’s the foundation of everything we do in the company. I’m a big person on passion and I see it in our team every day. We want to honor Mr. Hershey’s legacy and do everything we can to help the school.”

“Our hosting is dependent upon the district three teams involved,” Ainsworth was quoted as saying in Straub’s e-mail. “Both the district and state officials try to find a site that is somewhere in the middle of the two schools competing.  This applies for all games we host except the championships.”

ElcoThe cost to rent Hershey Entertainment and Resort facilities varies based upon the sport and the level at which it is being contested. But for some area events, H.E.&R. charges the organizers and participants very little to host them.

“That’s accurate,” said Hultquist. “We have arrangements with Hershey (High) and Lower Dauphin where we absorb the expenses of those events. With District Three events, we have standard rates, but we certainly have special arrangements with them. As part of trying to give back, we work with the community. But we always have proper staff and make sure we deliver on our promise. Many times, we’ll do everything we can to work with them.

“It’s a fine balance,” Hultquist added. “We are a for-profit business. Our goal is to give back to the Hershey Foundation. There’s some events where we don’t make a profit to honor that commitment. For student-athletes to have an opportunity to make it to Hershey, to have them being excited about getting to Hershey, it’s about creating sweet moments. To hear about kids throwing (Hershey) kisses on the floor because they made it to Hershey, that means a lot to us.”

CougarsAt the most basic level, one of Hershey Entertainment and Resort’s goals is to simply have its facilities being used.

“It’s such a broad range,” said Hultquist. “We’re very fortunate, and it’s very unique that we have so many different venues. We really try to listen to each possible venture, and see how it aligns with our goals. Sometimes that means we have to get creative. We want to make a commitment to host as many championships as possible. The road leads to Hershey, the sweetest place on earth.

“It’s very important to us,” added Hultquist. “Mr. Hershey built these facilities for work and play, and we want to honor those wishes. We really want to give back to the community.”

MiltonAt the turn of the 20th century, Milton Snavely Hershey founded what would become the largest chocolate producer in the world in Derry Township, and the company town that grew up around it would later take on Hershey’s name. In 1909, Hershey established what would later become the Milton Hershey School. He died in Hershey in 1945.

“There’s a greater awareness for us to foster a relationship between Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and Milton Hershey School,” said Hultquist. “Our goal is to promote the vision of the school. We’ve had a great relationship with them over the years. We’re fortunate to give back to the school and the kids, and whatever they decide to do with their lives.”

“Milton Hershey School works closely with Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and other area businesses to provide a sense of belonging throughout the Hershey community,” said Ainsworth, through Straub’s e-mail. “The gift of giving back was important to our founders and is still present today as we all strive to honor their vision.”

Fans

List of Sporting Events Hosted by Hershey Entertainment and Resorts

  • PIAA (Competitive Spirit, Team Wrestling, Individual Wrestling, Basketball, Football, Lacrosse, Soccer, Cross Country)
  • PIAA District III (Basketball, Wrestling, Football, Lacrosse, Cross Country, Soccer)
  • LVC Hockey
  • Hershey High School Football
  • Lower Dauphin High School Football
  • Hershey Figure Skating Club Open
  • Reflections Synchronized Skating
  • Hershey Junior Bears
  • VB0Yr8sb5a0QpF7IHC41YlGceNJ7BdoFPk-12j3x6BANCAA Division III Wrestling
  • PSU Men’s Soccer
  • Various Hockey Camps & Pee Wee Events
  • Tournament of Bands
  • Cavalcade of Bands
  • PA Junior Wrestling
  • Big 33 Football, Cheerleading, Alumni, Buddy Events
  • Hershey Bears
  • Witmer

 

 

 

 

 

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