|Featuring 240 fourth graders from 16 area schools, the 2nd Annual Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Shootout hits Honda Center this Saturday. |
On Saturday, 240 fourth grade students from 16 area schools will take part in the 2nd Annual Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Shootout, held at Honda Center. The highly anticipated street hockey tournament is the culmination of the award winning and state recognized Ducks S.C.O.R.E. program that the Ducks provide for fourth grade classes across Southern California.
The tournament gives the children a chance to utilize the hockey skills and techniques taught through the S.C.O.R.E. program to make a championship run of their own. The winning school will be awarded the Ducks Shootout Cup, a replica Stanley Cup with the players’ names engraved on the side. The school that wins the Ducks Shootout Cup will get to keep the trophy until next year’s tournament. Last year’s tournament champions, Friends Christian School, were the first to take home the coveted trophy.
“Each of the students that were on the team got to have a day with the cup,” said Friends Christian head coach Jan Downs. “They took pictures with it, slept with it and even watched television with it.”
The students’ excitement for this year’s extravaganza is building at each of the schools. “The kids are pumped,” said Maranatha Christian Academy head coach Jason Cooper. “We practice at lunch, and many have been skipping the chicken nuggets and heading straight to the court.”
Some schools are giving up their weekends to prepare for Saturday. “My fourth grade students are extremely excited and anxious,” remarked Lori Matsunaga, head coach of Fairmont Private School (Anaheim Hills). “They have been counting off the days and decided as a group to have Saturday practices.”
The tournament is a gigantic success for the Anaheim Ducks Fan Development department in gaining awareness and participation in hockey for Southern California’s youth. “Out of the 16 kids we had on our team from last year, I would say six or seven of them joined a hockey league or an ice hockey team,” Downs said.
Fairmont Private School (Edgewood) head coach Kent Powell agrees that the tournament turns students into hockey players. “All of the kids that have previously been through the S.C.O.R.E. program still love playing hockey and some have even joined ice hockey leagues,” Powell said.
|Members of Friends Christian School hold up the Ducks Shootout Cup at the conclusion of last year's inaugural S.C.O.R.E. Shootout. |
Even if the children are not playing hockey, they are turning into fans of the Ducks. “I have students (girls mostly) who didn’t have a clue that the Anaheim Ducks existed,” said Matsunaga. “Now they are watching the games and are actively involved in our postgame discussions.”
Cooper has been observing an increase in Ducks fans at Maranatha Christian Academy also. “I find more and more kids wearing Ducks shirts,” Cooper said. “They are paying attention and following the game, if not just the Ducks. They know what is going on in the playoffs.”
The success of the S.C.O.R.E. program can be seen both at the tournament and within the schools themselves. The growing number of participating teams this year (16) has doubled from last year. “This is the 4th year of our S.C.O.R.E. program and 2nd year of the tournament, and the enthusiasm that we are seeing from the students is tremendous,” said Ducks Director of Fan Development Matt Savant. “An event like this truly embodies fan development and validates our efforts. These children are genuinely excited about hockey and passionate about the Ducks.”
“We love it,” said Downs. “It has been a great addition to our program. The curriculum that the Ducks have given to us to follow has been wonderful.” Cooper agrees with Downs. “Students can’t get enough of it. We as teachers love it. Hockey is here to stay at Maranatha Christian Academy.”