Rick Randazzo was living in North Carolina in 2007, taking a break from coaching hockey when his phone rang. He was asked to head up the Fellowship of Christian Athletes hockey program.
“At that point, FCA Hockey had no presence, no logo, no money,” Randazzo said. “FCA had started investing in different sports. After praying about it for a little while, we were pretty excited…we had no idea where it would lead.”
It lead Randazzo to Alexandria, where on Monday, Oct. 14, the NorthStar Group broke ground on the $8.1 million NorthStar Sports Complex, which will house a hockey arena and be the home of FCA Hockey.
“FCA Hockey will have its headquarters there,” he said. “The front part will be offices and the upstairs is going to be a chapel.”
The local Fellowship of Christian Athletes will be involved in other parts of the complex that will include a turf practice field for soccer and other sports.
“A huge part of this building will be opening it up to the community and youth organizations,”
Randazzo said Monday.
The complex sits next to NorthStar Christian Academy, which opened in 2016, just north of Alexandria Area High School.
Currently, Randazzo is based out of NorthStar Christian Academy, but spends a good amount of time traveling to other states to put on hockey clinics and camps.
Randazzo’s love of hockey goes back to his youth in Buffalo, New York. After being a top scorer for Army and graduating from West Point Military Academy in 1993, he served in the Army for six years. He then began coaching club hockey at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. It was during his time coaching that he got reintroduced to FCA, which he had been involved in as an athlete himself.
Randazzo worked for FCA part-time for two years before moving into a full-time position with the program. He and his team began traveling around the country putting on hockey camps, which is how Randazzo was introduced to Alexandria.
“One of the people that reached out to me that first year was Mark Jenson (NorthStar board member) here in Alex,” Randazzo recalled. “He said, ‘Come do a hockey camp here.’ That started the relationship with FCA Hockey and Alexandria.”
Alexandria became common place for FCA hockey to return to due to the welcoming culture.
“We kept coming back to Alexandria and doing more camps, with a bigger turnout,” Randazzo said. “It became a place we loved to come to and were always welcome here.”
Then, in 2011, Randazzo and his family set off on a 50-state tour putting on hockey camps and clinics. During their stop in Minnesota, Randazzo met with Jenson, as well as others who had begun to discuss the possibility of creating NorthStar Christian Academy.
“They’d started talking about this school and we’d started talking about being part of a school,” Randazzo said.
Though five other states also offered possibilities for a partnership with a school, Randazzo and his family settled on Alexandria. They moved to town in August 2016. But even prior to moving, Randazzo has been part of the planning process for the sports complex.
“It’s been two or three years of actually putting the prep time in, having meetings, having discussions,” he said. “The school was primarily the focus but the sports complex was right behind that. The timing has been great. We needed to kind of figure some things out here (at the school) and get this going so then we could focus on the sports complex.”
Of the $8.1 million needed to fund the project, $3.2 million has been raised. Since all the funding is not in place, the project is being done in a few phases.
“We’re doing phase one, which is to get the steel structure up,” Randazzo said. “During that time we’ll continue to fundraise. We’d love to have the building built by September of next year and have people skating and playing soccer, and we hope that’s the case, but we still need people who have a heart for this to come by and talk to us about being part of it.”
The sports complex will have an arena with seating for between 250 and 400 people.
Though not solidified, it’s likely that Peak Performance, a Heartland Orthopedics program designed to maximize athletic potential and reduce the chance of injury, will utilize some of the space in the sports complex.