GRAFTON, MA – More than 150 sixth-graders at Millbury Street Elementary School played street hockey with members of the Boston Bruins training and equipment staff on Wednesday, learning tips and tricks along the way.
The visit was part of the Bruins I.C.E. School program, which provides kindergarten through elementary school teachers in New England with supplemental curriculum materials incorporating the sport of hockey and the Bruins into lesson plans.
Throughout the afternoon, the gym resonated with loud cheers from the young players, beginning with the introductory lessons and lasting through the final minutes of each of the three games.
Bruins strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides started the afternoon by teaching students the importance of a healthy lifestyle, including sleep, school work, fitness and eating right.
“[Bruins] players didn’t get in shape when they became Bruins,” Coach Whitesides said to the students. “They did when they were your age and younger.”
The kids also learned hockey safety and techniques from assistant equipment manager Matt Falconer.
|Students get ready to play street hockey with Bruins I.C.E. School |
“We don’t want to give them sticks and send them out on the floor here and have them sticking each other in the face,” Whitesides said, on the importance of teaching the students. “So we taught them to keep the stick low, how to hold the stick, how to pass right.
“And then how to have a good time,” added Whitesides with a smile.
With new skills acquired and positions assigned, the sixth graders were eager to face off.
During play, Whitesides used his commanding and motivational presence to offer positive reinforcement, playing tips and endless high-fives.
“It’s fun to come out and work with the kids,” he said.
“It’s great to get out in the community, and keep the Boston Bruins name going, and it’s great to see how many fans there really are everywhere, including here in Grafton. It’s unbelievable.”
The level of enthusiasm was impressive and Jen Peters, the physical education teacher at Millbury Street Elementary School, noticed right away.
“We saw kids have an absolute blast playing hockey. They were enjoying themselves, so excited to be here with [Bruins] staff and they just had a terrific time,” she said.
“The I.C.E. program has terrific PE lessons online, so what I’ve used it for is to help supplement my PE program when I’m doing hockey.”
With smiles in tow, some of the students had the chance to voice their own enthusiasm to BostonBruinsTV.
“I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve never really played hockey before, but now I kind of want to because it’s fun,” giggled young Abby of Grafton, as a smiling classmate jumped in front of the camera next to her.
Tyler, another sixth grader – also of Grafton, was impressed with his classmates guarding the crease at both ends of the gym.
“We learned the skills of street hockey, how to hold the stick and defend the goal. The shootout was my favorite part because it took so long, because the goalies kept saving it!” he said about the fun ending to the afternoon’s games.
To polish off the event, the Bruins donated all of hockey equipment used in the games to ensure that Millbury Street Elementary students can sustain their excitement while continuously improving their hockey skills.
It was an added bonus to an already successful afternoon, and was ecstatic to continue bringing the sport into her classes.
“It was just a spectacular time for all of us here in Grafton.”