While “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky is properly credited with stoking the flames of excitement for hockey in places like Southern California, it’s the work of many others who keep the fire burning brightly.
Among them are groups such as the non-profit Anaheim Ducks Foundation, which held its annual S.C.O.R.E. (Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation and Education) Hockey Teacher’s Seminar on Oct. 5 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
The event, started in 2006, promotes the game of hockey within educational curriculum both in and out of the classroom. S.C.O.R.E. works directly with local Southern California schools, providing them with programs that include academics such as math, science, language arts and physical education.
The Ducks expanded the program, making it an even richer experience, by creating a training manual/curriculum guide with the help of organizations such as USA Hockey and the Orange County Department of Education. All of the skill drills and fundamentals training were based on content USA Hockey currently uses as part of its American Development Model, according to Anaheim Ducks Fan Development Coordinator Jason Cooper.
“We reached out to USA Hockey, who not only agreed present on ADM and to run the on-ice portion of the seminar but also donated 48 sets of equipment and jerseys that the teachers used that day,” Cooper said. “The additional equipment was supplemented by the Rinks, who also conduct many adult learn to play clinics using the same format we used that day.
“The results were nothing but positive. Every direction we looked we were met with enthusiastic if not disbelieving smiles. Over half the teachers had no ice hockey experience before they took the ice. By the end of our two-hour session many made positive steps in learning the fundamental skating, puck handling and shooting skills of the sport. They were so enthusiastic about the event that many lingered in the locker rooms long after our scheduled programming had run its course picking the brains of our USA Hockey coaches and Ducks staff.”
One of those teachers was Kristin Jones of Maxwell Elementary School in Anaheim. She credits the Ducks for taking a down-to-earth and personal approach with her students. The Ducks even built a street hockey rink at the school, along with a shed for them to store equipment.
“They’re such a generous organization, I can’t say enough about how they’ve stepped up again and again for us,” said Jones, a member of the Big Kahunas, the pilot teacher’s ice hockey team and a current participant in S.C.O.R.E. Street Hockey program. “What the Ducks have done has changed the lives of our students, every day they want to play hockey.”
Jones said she has learned more about hockey than she could have imagined, which then has helped her impart her knowledge along to her students, who have backgrounds from all over the world.
“I thought I knew hockey as a season ticket holder of the team, but that was before I started playing the sport and then teaching it,” she said. “You learn to appreciate NHL players and what they do.”
Cooper is especially pleased with the program’s growth and the impact it has had all over Southern California.
“The success of this program can be seen through its continued and rising number of participants over the past eight years,” he said. “The street hockey program has over 45 schools currently enrolled, and over its eight years of existence over 50,000 students have been introduced to the game of street hockey with many continuing on to play roller and ice hockey.”
Cooper added the Ducks relationship with USA Hockey has been crucial to helping grow the sport throughout Anaheim and beyond.
“The Ducks are so thankful for our partnership with USA Hockey as their mission closely aligns with the high standards we have set for ourselves as we promote the game we love through our educational efforts,” he said. “Their efforts maintain that high standard that has proven to be a success at local, national and international levels.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.