The seed for Operation Hat Trick (OHT) was planted in 2007 when OHT Founder and President Dot Sheehan, heard a trivia question on a Boston radio station. The question was: “What’s the one thing most wanted by head-wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?” The answer: Baseball caps, to cover wounds, burns, swelling and bandages. Dot was the Assoc. Director of External Relations for UNH Athletics at the time and a year later when Nate Hardy, a Navy SEAL and son of UNH Professor Dr. Steve Hardy, and UNH staff member Donna Hardy was killed in action in Iraq alongside fellow SEAL Mike Koch, she created Operation Hat Trick.
The idea at first was simple, providing free hats to wounded service members and selling hats locally, leveraging UNH’s hockey tradition to support the effort. It was Dot’s way to fulfill a need and bolster a UNH community in mourning. It didn’t take long for OHT’s mission and message to resonate beyond the UNH community and for Dot, who ran a sports marketing firm prior to working with UNH Athletics, to realize the impact OHT could have helping wounded veterans and service members.
Operation Hat Trick went National in 2012 partnering with ’47 Brand to sell licensed collegiate athletic hats to generate funds to fill critical gaps in care and services that wounded service members and veterans are facing. This model quickly gained traction. OHT has partnered with college & universities, high schools, NHL teams, Minor League Baseball teams, NASCAR, and more than 100 companies. The OHT licensed product line has also grown beyond hats to include apparel, shoes, tailgating games and more and can be found in a variety of national retailers including Lids, Kohl’s, Amazon, Olympia Sports and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
All of OHT’s hard work has allowed them to award over $500,000 to organizations that support veterans and service members recovering from wounds of war both visible and invisible. Northeast Passage is among dozens of fortunate organizations including Project Sanctuary, The Yellow Ribbon Fund, Easter Seals/Veterans Count, the Navy SEAL Foundation Semper Fi Fund, the Warrior Bonfire Project, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, to receive vital support from OHT.
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