NASHUA, NH — On Monday, 60 fifth graders at Charlotte Avenue Elementary School took to their gym to play street hockey during their P.E. class alongside members of the Boston Bruins equipment staff and B's alum Tommy Songin.
The visit, set up through the B's I.C.E. (I Can Excel) program, was a fun addendum to the B's classroom curriculum.
Charlotte teacher Jillian Brickley, who is on the committee for the Bruins I.C.E. School (which adds Bruins related supplements to lesson plans for elementary and middle school classes), said she uses the lesson plans to help her students reinforce academic concepts.
"If I’m teaching angles one day, the next day what I’ll do is pull a Bruins lesson plan and I can really reinforce the skill," said Brickley. "I’ve had so many kids that have really started to get involved with their academics."
John Whitesides, the Boston Bruins Strength and Conditioning Coach, supplemented that classroom learning with a lesson of his own, and led off the hockey clinic with a talk about making the right choices in terms of eating right, staying fit, and doing your work.
"Those things are hugely important," said the always energetic Whitesides. "Are they more important for you guys or are they more important for the Bruins? For you. Because if you don’t start those habits at an early age, you can’t do it later on.
"You think our guys started all their eating habits, their sleeping habits and doing their schoolwork when they were older or when they were younger? They were younger. And it carries forth when they get older."
"So, make sure you eat, sleep, do your homework and listen to your gym teacher," he quipped.
B’s alum Tommy Songin, a common face at many Bruins youth hockey events, said he always enjoys coaching clinics like Monday’s.
"Well [the children] have a lot of fun," said Songin. "It gives them a little time off… and there’s nothing better than to have that unity and being a team and having fun together."
At the end of the clinic, Songin announced that the fun would continue indefinitely, as all of the equipment the Bruins brought to the clinic—nets, balls, sticks, and goalie gear—were the school's to keep so they can practice hockey all year long.
"Everybody’s been super excited and looking forward to this," said Brickley of the event. "I think just the general consensus of the whole fifth grade being like 'Yes. We’re going to play real hockey today.' They’ve been playing what they call 'scooter hockey' in gym class.
"So this gives them an opportunity to apply those skills and kind of come together as a team."