Following several years of playing professional hockey, Washington Capitals alumnus Errol Rausse recently drew on his experiences to encourage area children to play the sport.
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“Hockey – and all sports in general – are about how to get along with everyone else around you and be part of a team,” Rausse said. “There’s no bigger team-building thing than a sport.”
Joined by Kettler Capitals Iceplex hockey director Dan Jablonic, Rausse visited with a group of 150 fifth- and sixth-grade Capital City Public School students as part of the Capitals Hockey School program.
Hockey School is a free program, designed to be both instructional and interactive, with the goal of exposing students to floor hockey while teaching proper technique.
Each assembly features a question-and-answer session and skills demonstration, as well as the chance for students to try out stickhandling, passing and shooting. The clinics, hosted twice monthly between September and May, conclude with students participating in a scrimmage with the Capitals guests as teammates.
At the Washington D.C., school, Jablonic’s boys team defeated Rausse’s girls team 2-0.
Following the clinic the Capitals donated a set of street hockey equipment to the school and provided each student with an autographed alumni card, a hockey 101 booklet and squishy puck.
For Rausse, the opportunity to encourage children to play hockey through the Capitals hockey school program was a meaningful way to develop the sport.
“Participating in the Hockey School program is gratifying because I know how much fun and joy hockey has given to me in my life,” said Rausse. “If some of that transcends and some of these kids – even one kid – picks the game up, the enthusiasm, maybe goes out and plays or comes to Verizon, it snowballs. One kid starts playing, the next kid starts playing, next thing you know you have a whole bunch of new hockey players and new hockey fans.”
The Capital City Public Charter School visit marked the tenth Capitals Hockey School assembly of the academic year. The 2012-13 season is the sixth consecutive year the Capitals have conducted the program. In the past four years the team has hosted more than 70 clinics and reached more than 10,000 students.