Washington Capitals forward Tomas Fleischmann and defenseman Jeff Schultz
attended the Fort Dupont Cannons’ biweekly practice at Fort Dupont Ice Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 5. This was the second amateur hockey practice that Caps players have visited this season through the Coached by a Cap program.
What made this Coached by a Cap visit unique was that the HNA D.C. Vipers, a local adult hockey team, won the visit with the Caps players, but donated it to the Fort Dupont Cannons youth hockey team instead.
“While we would love to be coached by a Cap we all felt the experience and time would be more beneficial to a youth team,” said Chi Pham, a member of the adult team. “Team Vipers was more than happy to share this experience with the youth team and plan on future practices with Fort Dupont to teach the kids the game of hockey.”
Comprised of 48 children ages five through 17, the Cannons are a co-ed team coached by Neal Henderson. Along with Fleischmann and Schultz, Tim Schuster and Andrew Stone of the Vipers participated in the Cannons’ practice. Slapshot was also on hand to skate with the squad.
During practice, Fleischmann and Schultz split up, instructing half the Cannons’ team at opposite ends of the rink. They coached the young players through skating, passing and shooting drills providing encouragement and key demonstrations along the way.
At the conclusion of practice, the Cannons took a team photo with Fleischmann, Schultz, Slapshot, Schuster and Stone. Both Caps players and Slapshot also remained available to the youth squad for autographs and photos.
"We are extremely grateful and appreciative to the D.C. Vipers and the Washington Capitals for the opportunity to have the kids in our program be Coached by a Cap,” said Henderson. “Two of our youngsters stated that they were so excited they could not sleep the night before. Our parents were just as excited as the kids."
Team Manager Betty Dean added, “It was an experience that will live in their hearts and minds forever.”
Schuster and Stone of the Vipers agreed that the night was a success. “For me it was a great experience, being able to help out and impart some hockey knowledge onto these kids,” Stone said. “Their coach could not thank us enough and invited us to continue working with the team during the upcoming season. Knowing that we were able to make a difference in these kids’ lives even if only for a few hours is a really great feeling.”
Vipers players have been extended an invitation by the Cannons to come back to assist at future practices. Schuster and Stone are encouraging their teammates to take advantage of this rewarding opportunity, and they are looking forward to both returning to Fort Dupont Ice Arena as well.
Coached by a Cap is part of the Capitals’ Pucks to Bucks group sales fundraising program. Teams of all ages in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area are encouraged to go to http://www.capstickets.com/puckstobucks.html or contact Tim Bronaugh at 202.266.2341 or email@example.com to learn more information about entering to be Coached by a Cap.