Union Thunder was founded in 2011 by the Anderson Family who also owns and operates the club's primary home rink, Union Sports Arena. Since then, we've grown from an independent club with only two teams in the first season to a Tier II club with 28 teams, including a girls program.
Thunder joined the New Jersey Youth Hockey League (NJYHL) in the 2017-2018 season. The girls program was established in 2016 and joined the Mid-Atlantic Women's Hockey Association (MAWHA) in the 2019-2020 season.
We're excited to share that the 2020-2021 season marks Union Thunder's 10th year anniversary!
Union Thunder is led by dynamic husband and wife youth hockey duo, Matt and Caitlin Anderson. Matt is the Hockey Director and Caitlin serves as the Administrative Director, making things happen behind the scenes while Matt focuses much of his attention on developing players on the ice. The couple also has two beautiful young boys, Gunnar and Nathanial.
Matt grew up playing hockey in New Jersey and has always been passionate about growing the sport in his home state while keeping it affordable. This passion comes from knowing the value of hockey, not only as a sport, but for the lessons that can be taught on and off the ice. Click on the link below to read Matt's full bio.
Caitlin is a licensed school psychologist who graduated from Seton Hall in December 2014. While in graduate school, she slowly started helping Matt out as the number of Thunder teams grew. Caitlin enjoyed her role with the Thunder so much that she decided to make it her full-time career. In 2019, she started an apparel company, Anderson Athletic Apparel, through which she handles Thunder uniforms and apparel.
The Anderson's established the Union Thunder Family Foundation in late 2019 in an effort to help facilitate the club's continued community outreach. Our primary goals are to offer some sort of scholarship for our players, to get new on-and-off-ice equipment for our players, and to have an avenue for players and families to give back. We're still in the process of determining how best to utilize the funds for scholarships, but please stay tuned.
During the COVID-19 quarantine, we offered hockey-specific Zoom training sessions to our players five days a week. Click on the link below to watch these sessions on YouTube.
We also held a Zoom Hockey Trivia Night for our members with all proceeds going to our friends at La Casa de Don Pedro, an organization that works to ensure that Greater Newark's residents engage in and benefit from the region's growth. La Casa de Don Pedro’s resident-centered agenda empowers people and builds their self-sufficiency through education and economic development strategies, neighborhood revitalization initiatives, and family stabilizing programs and services.
More recently, the club held a Thunder Mask Drive to benefit La Casa de Don Pedro’s #ProjectBackpack efforts, which provide virtual learning school supplies to students in Newark. We collected in-kind donations with each purchase of a Thunder-branded COVID-19 mask, and 100% of the proceeds went to #ProjectBackpack. We'd like to thank all of our Thunder families who supported this great cause!
In terms of growing the sport of hockey, Union Sports Arena has held several USA Hockey sponsored "Try Hockey for Free" events. During the 2019-2020 season, we partnered with both the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers to offer beginner programs, including a middle school beginner program for girls.
Lastly, the Thunder has been hosting a free adaptive skate at The Westfield Rink for the last two seasons. In partnership with Union County, we provided walkers and sleds along with player and parent volunteers to help kids with special needs learn how to skate. If you're interested in getting involved this season, please contact us!
Coaches have kept sports alive in 2020. Has your kid's coach helped them through this crisis?Nominate them for a chance to win $2500!