The Reedsburg Youth Hockey Club, which its members describe as a family, is left with the bill as its former treasurer awaits trial on felony theft charges.
Daniel Lehman of Reedsburg is facing three counts of felony theft after being accused of embezzling at least $150,000 from the club over 13 years. Lehman's trial is scheduled to begin in December.
The club's insurance will only pay about $50,000, which means the club is responsible for the remainder of the loan, which was originally meant for upgrading its concession stand and building new locker rooms. A variety of fundraisers will make up the difference, members said.
"Basically, he stole from kids -- we do this for our children," Andy Rynearson, a hockey parent, said as he assembled the ice rink boards on Sunday. "It just means we'll have to work that much harder to get back to where we were."
Club president Deb Rosholt said Lehman admitted to her that he stole the money because "the bills were piling up."
The club will host teams from across Wisconsin in a 3-on-3 hockey tournament in late October, and its ongoing pizza sale fundraiser is going strong this year because of community support, she said.
The 80 youth players and 25 high school skaters won't see changes on the ice this season, but the parents have been frustrated all summer, Rosholt said.
"It was devastating, not only because of the financial aspect of it, but this was a person we had trusted," she said.
The club's bylaws had only required one treasurer, which members have replaced with a finance committee. Four people will now review deposits before they go to the bank, and two signatures need to be on every check.
"It's a big amount of money that comes through every year, and it needs to be run more like a business, unfortunately," said Pfaff, a member of the finance committee. "We have to think positive, and we will. It'll be all right."
The loan payment could be as high as $224,000 when adding in extra interest charges, Rosholt said.
Members have resolved themselves to raising the money themselves, instead of counting on Lehman to pay it back, she said.
"We just have to move forward without even worrying about that, and if it comes it'll be a bonus," Pfaff said.
For information on the fundraisers, click here.