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AAA Blue Jackets, Lyon family dedicate "unbelievable" new development center

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

At the OhioHealth Ice Haus, tucked away under the main stairwell to the side of the rink, is the newly dedicated Lyon Family Foundation Development Center for the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets program.

The development center includes two locker rooms, an office for the coaches, and bathroom and laundry facilities. It's top-notch.

Although the idea for a comprehensive facility has been a dream of the program for a long time, it was only recently made a reality thanks to the generosity of the Lyon family, the Blue Jackets, the Blue Jackets Foundation, Blue Jackets players, current and former AAA Blue Jackets players and families and countless others who donated their time and money.

“The generosity of the Lyon family and others allowed us to do it. It’s been a dream pretty much since we moved to Columbus and we’ve never been able to make it a reality and now it’s real. It’s here. I smile coming in and out of the room,” said Ed Gingher, the AAA Blue Jackets program coordinator and U18 head coach.

“It’s humbling,” Bob Lyon, president of Lyon Video, said of the dedication of the center. “Even if it wasn’t the Lyon name on it, I would still be behind it. What it brings to the community, what it does for the AAA Jackets, what it does for the Blue Jackets — I’m very humbled by the whole thing.”

When you walk through the entrance to the development center, your eyes lead you to the blue door on the right. Through that door, which is marked with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets’ logo, is the U18 locker room.

The room boasts individually-labeled wooden stalls with blue cushioned seats (styled similarly to the Blue Jackets locker room) for each player to hang and house their gear.

“We mirrored a lot of this locker room off the big club’s room, and it’s definitely some of those little details we wanted to show the affiliation and relationship with the (Blue Jackets),” Gingher said. “There’s definitely no excuses. It’s home.”

PHOTO GALLERY: An inside look at the new AAA Lyon Family Development Center

A large white board with the outline of a rink and plenty of space to draw out drills, write game day lineups and other important information sits at the front of the room. There is a projector and TV, and capabilities to hook up music — all the essentials of a NHL locker room.

“It is so rewarding,” Lyon said of seeing the center. “I’m just blushing because of what a great job the guys have done here. Not only did they do me proud, we’re here to do the AAA Blue Jackets proud. And I couldn’t be more proud to see their name everywhere.”

Although it is a top-of-the-line facility, Gingher added that the center will be primarily used to motivate current players within the program to work their way up to the U18 team.

“We didn’t build it to recruit,” Gingher said. “We built it as an incentive for our kids to come up, because we want this to be a program for central Ohio kids, and obviously, we always have to bring in a couple kids and it’s sure not going to hurt having a facility like this, but it won’t be the main focus.

"It’s more for kids coming up to get an opportunity to dress in here and play on these teams, which is pretty cool.”

In addition to plaques with motivational sayings displayed around the room, a photo of last year’s 2014-15 championship team is also on the wall as a reminder of what is possible.

“Walking in here every day, especially coming in and seeing last year’s championship photo on the side and being able to see what all the guys before us put in, it’s awesome,” Kyle Craddick, one of the AAA Blue Jackets players, said. “Coming in here with a little more confidence, feeling like you’re the big man on campus. (We have) the TV, big board, music, it’s awesome.”

“It’s unbelievable what (the Lyon family) did for us and what they did for the program and the room, and all the money that they put in. It’s unbelievable — I can’t even begin to thank them enough for what they did.”

“The McConnells started this feeling in our community more than a decade ago, and if I can help bring it to some of the younger ones and help spread it throughout the community, great,” Lyon added. “I think we can’t just say that it’ll make them feel like pros, but hopefully it’ll help push them to the next level. Pull them up and let them get to the next level. It’s what they’re doing, we’re just here to support them.”

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