LINCOLN, MA — In one small Eastern Massachusetts town stand a number of schools that are home to children in pre-kindergarten all the way up through high school. Their buildings look like any other classroom buildings. The students look like average students. But one special thing ties the children of Hanscom together and makes them very unique.
On Thursday, members of the Boston Bruins staff and an alumnus visited the Hanscom Primary School — located on Hanscom Civil Air Terminal — that houses children of military families.
With Veteran’s Day approaching, the B’s personnel that chipped in to put on the street hockey clinic for some eager third graders reflected on the importance of the event.
“The military people make a lot of sacrifices, and it’s good to give back to the kids that are here on the base,” said Bruins Equipment Manager Keith Robinson. “They seem to love it.”
The day was broken up into two sessions, each consisting of 30 students. As the eight-year-olds piled into the gym, they were greeted by a speech from B’s alumnus Tommy Songin. A short while after, Bruins Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides gave a talk about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. Then, the group broke into some drills, followed by a street hockey scrimmage.
“Our kids come from all over the country because we are an active military installation,” said Beth Ludwig, the principal of Hanscom Primary. “Our school has kids from all branches of the military.
“A lot of our kids have been here for about two or three years. Some are brand new, some of them just came this week, but we do have a fair number of families who grew up in the area and grew up in New England who are local hockey fans.
“But we have a lot of kids and a lot of diversity [in terms of] the sports programs that they’re into.”
That was apparent when Songin canvassed the class to see how many of them had played hockey before. In the first group, two children raised their hands. A third girl yelled out her dad loves hockey. But Songin quickly let them know that on that day, they were all hockey players.
“It’s interesting that some of them have never played before,” said Robinson. “They’re very receptive and willing.
“They want to get involved in it, so it’s very exciting for them, and for us.”
As the children were eager to learn, the B’s instructors were eager to teach. For Matt Falconer, Bruins Assistant Equipment Manager, the day rang all the more special.
“Some family members, my cousin is actually in Fallon, Nevada right now, getting ready; he’s in the Navy,” Falconer said. “It’s definitely great to be able to support [children of military families].
“Their parents definitely help our country out; they do great things for this country.
“So, for us to be here is minor compared to what their parents do for us. It’s definitely nice to give back, and it’s fun to be here,” he said.
And while the 50-plus students who got the chance to run around with the Bruins staff wore wide smiles, it appeared to be a humbling an experience for the men tasked with leading the clinic.
“It was something I loved to do at Bates, we made sure to get in the community a little bit throughout the athletics department,” said Jeremy Rogalski, video analyst for the Bruins, who a short while ago played hockey at college in Lewiston, Maine. “So it’s a great opportunity.
"It’s an important thing to be able to connect with kids like this, and just spend some quality time with them.”