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Ducks Power PLAY! Project Comes to Santa Ana School

McFadden Intermediate in Santa Ana received several campus upgrades highlighted by a permanent street hockey rink

by Jenelyn Russo / Special to AnaheimDucks.com

McFadden Intermediate in Santa Ana is the latest site to benefit from the Anaheim Ducks Power PLAY! Project. The school received several campus upgrades highlighted by a permanent street hockey rink installation, the fifth of its kind to be built at local schools.

During the students' spring break last week, nearly 100 volunteers - including Ducks staff members, premium seat holders and season seat holders - took time to help with the surprise makeover. In addition to the new rink, upgrades at the school included new trees and landscaping, painted murals and a garden space. Corporate partners such as 7UP, Deja Blue, SoCal Honda Dealers and Wahoo's Fish Taco also assisted in the campus rejuvenation effort.

Several hundred of the middle school students gathered at their new rink Monday morning for a formal ribbon cutting ceremony, as Ducks TV host Kent French and Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Aaron Teats, along with Wild Wing, joined school and district officials in dedicating the space. Members of the school's two Anaheim Ducks i3 Roller Hockey League teams were on hand to play the first of many street hockey scrimmages.

A long-time, invested participant in the Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E. (Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation & Education) Program, McFadden Intermediate has been a partner school with the Ducks for more than five years and hosts an annual street hockey tournament that has grown from two to eight teams, all from the Santa Ana Unified School District.

Additionally, the school's participation in the Anaheim Ducks i3 Roller Hockey League is up from one team last year in their first season to two teams this season, due to overwhelming interest from the students. McFadden math and technology teacher, Christopher Yusi, heads up the school's hockey program and has enjoyed partnering with the Ducks to bring his love for hockey to his students.

"This is my 21st year teaching, and the generosity of the Ducks is just remarkable," said Yusi, who also coaches the school's two roller hockey teams. "It is an expensive sport to get started with, and the Ducks have handled the vast majority of expenses from moment one. To look at where we are now is just incredible. It's all been the Ducks' initiative from beginning to end."

McFadden Principal Ignacio Muniz said having a permanent rink on campus will broaden the students' opportunities in hockey, both for those who already play, and for those who have yet to try the sport.

"It opens up a lot of opportunities," Muniz said. "Having this rink here opens it up to more students, so there's no limit as to how many students can play. And they can play all year long."

Eight grade twin sisters Nancy and Daicy Verduzco, along with teammate Denise Reyna, have been playing on McFadden's roller hockey team for two seasons and enjoy the support the program provides.

"It's cool, because everyone is really supportive," Denise said.

"It's like a family," Daicy added. "Good energy and so many good vibes."

"Even when we have bad days, our teammates stand up for each other," Nancy said.

Yusi has found that one of the many benefits of offering a hockey program at McFadden has been the way the sport has reached a variety of students, kids who otherwise might not have the opportunity to play organized sports.

"For a lot of the students, it's their first team sport experience," Yusi said. "We have students in our hockey program from all corners of campus. We've got some honors students, some students who struggle academically, some who struggle with behavior and that's their biggest challenge at school. But when we're playing hockey, none of that's an issue."

Seventh grader Michael Barragan has been playing hockey at McFadden for two seasons and now considers the sport to be his passion.

"It's helped my self-confidence," Michael said. "I feel confident when I'm playing, and I feel like we can win."

From physical fitness and health benefits, to an increase in confidence and a heightened sense of purpose, hockey for the students of McFadden has brought positive change to the campus. And with the addition of their new rink, the long-term benefits will impact students for generations to come.

"They're all a part of one team, and they are supporting each other," Yusi said. "It's been a wonderful experience for me as a teacher to see that happen. This is a special program and a special place for the kids to join each other in a common endeavor. They feel like they belong here."


For more information on the Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Program, visit www.ducksscore.com.

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