On the ice, Cam Fowler spent the 2017-18 season continuing his growth as a veteran leader on the team's blue line.
Off the ice, though, he felt something was still missing.
"I felt maybe I wasn't as involved in the community as I could have been, and the kids playing hockey means a lot to me," he said.
Armed with a new long-term contract - and the security it brings a player - Fowler and his longtime girlfriend, Jasmine Maggard, honed in on how to give more to the community.
"We've always been very passionate about youth in this community, and it's been fun for us to watch the development of hockey in Southern California," Maggard said. "We said, 'You know what? We really want to get involved in this.' It felt right, and honestly, that's how it was born."
Just days before Training Camp begins at THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE, Fowler and Maggard unveiled their new charitable program, C4Kids, a program that will provide youth with opportunities to learn, play and love hockey. Fowler's passion for hockey inspired him to create C4Kids as a platform to feature a variety of activities for children and their families to enjoy and grow their love for the sport.
The two joined with Nick Gross, Founder of Find Your Grind, and his wife Natasha to announce the program. The Find Your Grind Hockey Scholarship program, announced this morning in conjunction with C4Kids, is designed for children with the passion to play hockey who are in need of financial assistance.
"We're trying to help youth figure out who they are, where they're going and how to get there," Gross said shortly after the announcement. "The how to get there part is the thing most organizations don't talk about, don't touch. We're trying to create real, tangible moments and experiences that help kids get there. Whether that's through curriculum we've created in high schools, live events or foundational thing we're doing today."
Participants hit the ice for a morning of drills, unaware of the surprise waiting in the Ducks locker room.
After the drills and celebrations ended, Fowler reflected on the opportunity to give back.
"Personally, we wanted to sink our teeth into something that was important to us, but we didn't want to jump into it," he said, still smiling from the day's events. "We wanted it to be thoughtful; something that meant a lot to us. The Ducks helped us with this and the C4Kids. They made it easy for us, and we're looking forward to what the future holds."
The growth of hockey in Southern California - which happens to coincide with Fowler's progression with the Ducks - was a natural fit.
"Cam and I have been together since we were 17 years old, so I've watched him develop as a player," Maggard said while watching Fowler take the ice with children in this new program. "When we came to California, it was really interesting because there's so much development as a child who plays hockey - or any sport, for that matter.
"I think children really learn through playing, and it's something that clicked for Cam and I one day. This is going to be something great."
The Ducks stress the need to give back, a directive beginning with owners Henry and Susan Samueli. Maggard noted how this impacted the decision to create C4Kids.
"We've only ever been in Anaheim, but I'm very certain in saying Anaheim, the Anaheim Ducks Foundation and the Anaheim Ducks as a team do so much for the community. It's been such a good support for us and such a good inspiration for us as well."
The pair also surprised participants with a special announcement - a suite at several Ducks games this season, where they'll watch Fowler and spend some time with the defenseman and his girlfriend following the game.
Signing autographs and taking photos after the conclusion of the day's events, Fowler saw his impact firsthand.
"I just saw the joy on a lot of the kids. I saw the smiles. They looked like they were having fun. It's great, too, because it's a different range of ages. There's kids from five to 15, all different sorts of skill levels. It was just great. Getting to fist bump with all the kids, celebrating their goals, that's all stuff I loved to do as a kid, too. I hope they enjoyed it, because I had a blast out there."