New Advisory Board to Oversee Legacy of Friendship Four Tournament
The Odyssey Trust is proud to announce the formation of the Friends of the Friendship Four Advisory Board – a new legacy committee dedicated to the growth and development of the Friendship Four ice hockey tournament.
Founded by The Odyssey Trust and held annually at The SSE Arena, Belfast, the Friendship Four and
Friendship Series are the only NCAA Division One men’s and women’s ice hockey tournaments to be
played outside of North America, and are designed to promote education, social welfare, and
community interaction, building on the Sister City agreement between Belfast and Boston.
Reporting to Robert Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive Officer of The Odyssey Trust, and chaired by Martin
McDowell, Chair of The Odyssey Trust, the Friends of the Friendship Four Advisory Board is
comprised of six members in total, including Steve Thornton, Group Head of Commercial and Hockey
at The Odyssey Trust; Sarah Fraser, Deputy Director of Athletics at Quinnipiac University, Joe
Bertagna, former Commissioner of Hockey East; Steve Hagwell, former Commissioner of the ECAC;
and Ralph Cox, Ambassador of the Friendship Four.
Robert Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive Officer of The Odyssey Trust, commented: “Creating
unparalleled, unique opportunities for student-athletes to have a global experience is what underpins
the Friendship Four. The implementation of the Friends of the Friendship Four Advisory Board
provides a valuable opportunity to ensure that the impact of the tournaments reaches far beyond the
ice; ensuring that ice hockey continues to be used as a powerful tool to educate young people and
create a spirit of mutual understanding, friendship, solidarity, and fair play.”
Meeting twice a year – once in Boston and once at the annual Friendship Four tournament in Belfast –
the Board is designed to advocate for the development of the Friendship Four, with a focus on growing
relationships with collegiate hockey programmes across the United States.
Martin McDowell, Chair of The Odyssey Trust, said: “I am incredibly pleased to announce plans for
the Friends of the Friendship Four Advisory Board. Ever since the Friendship Four’s inception in 2015,
the tournament has gone from strength to strength – culminating in the introduction of the women’s
Friendship Series tournament in 2019 – showcasing the importance of cross-Atlantic partnerships.
“The Friends of the Friendship Four Advisory Board will not only play a crucial role in the ongoing
growth and development of both the Friendship Four and Friendship Series but will also help to establish Northern Ireland as
a hub for innovation, collaboration, and inclusion.”
This announcement follows the release of ‘Ring the Bell!’, a brand-new book – co-authored by Robert
Fitzpatrick and Joe Bertagna – that explores the history and growth of the Friendship Four. Chronicling
the origins and impact of the Friendship Four, the book not only explores the 20 different NCAA
universities that have taken part since the tournament’s inception in 2015, but also describes how the
friendships formed have endured and developed.
For more information or to purchase ‘Ring the Bell!’, please click here.