A vibrant hockey community in Northwood is doing its best to make sure hockey stays affordable for its kids, and Farmers Union Insurance is part of that mission.

FUI recently bought the naming rights to the hockey arena in Northwood. Farmers Union Arena is only four years old, and the president of the booster club for Northwood Ice Storm Hockey, Bryan Brenden, said it was a logical step in keeping it affordable for families.

“We want to keep our costs as low as possible,” Brenden said. “When you charge $50 for a whole season ages 4-6 and also give them all of their equipment, it’s a big deal. That’s why we do sponsorships.”

It’s a no-brainer for FUI, said Kevin Ressler, sales and marketing manager.

“This sponsorship fits perfectly with our ‘Simply Different’ brand,” Ressler said. “It doubles down on our belief of supporting rural communities and the folks who live there. Because this facility is important to the community of Northwood, it’s important to us.”

Brenden said the arena has allowed the hockey club to grow, with kids from surrounding communities also taking part.

“We’ve embraced hockey as a community, but there’s still room to grow,” Brenden said. “The rink is a block away from the school, and it’s open every day after school. They can go and skate every day. Passion and availability of ice — that’s what really solidifies the program.”

Brenden was appreciative of FUI for its commitment to rural communities.

“The Northwood Ice Storm Hockey Board would like to sincerely thank Farmers Union Insurance for partnering with us and helping us keep hockey a low-cost option for kids in Northwood and the surrounding areas,” he said. “It definitely helps us achieve that.”

Ressler said supporting rural communities is part of FUI’s mission.

“I hope we can continue our commitment in the future,” Ressler said, “because that’s what really separates us from other insurance companies. Most major brands have left small towns and pulled their agents. We’ve actually increased the number of agencies we have in small towns to serve the population that meets our mission.”

The support for Northwood’s hockey arena is only one of numerous sports-affiliated sponsorships that FUI prides itself on. FUI is also the premier sponsor of the North Dakota High School Activities Association, and the BEK Broadcasting Network which televises high school athletic competitions throughout North Dakota.

FUI also has the naming rights to an expansion rink, the Farmers Union Insurance Center, attached to the Scheels Arena in Fargo, where the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League plays.

The company sponsors numerous other sports organizations and activities. FUI sponsors the Metro Committee in Fargo, Western Dakota Association, North Dakota High School Athletic Directors Association, Bismarck Bobcats hockey, Minot Minotauros hockey, Bismarck Larks baseball and Bismarck Bucks arena football.

— Chris Aarhus, NDFU