In their ongoing effort to broaden the game of hockey in Southern California, the Ducks today teamed up with the Samueli Foundation to deliver equipment to McFadden Intermediate in Santa Ana and officially launched a street hockey program at the school.
“This is a groundbreaking day,” said Tim Ryan, Ducks Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “The fact that we’ve tied the Samueli Foundation into the Anaheim Ducks, all for the benefit of these kids, is a great thing. This could be the start of something big. We’re going to have more kids playing hockey in Orange County than we did before we got here today.”
McFadden is the first of three schools in the Santa Ana Unified School district that will launch a street hockey program next month with the assistance of the Ducks and the Samueli Foundation. That consists of donation of a portable street hockey rink, hockey sticks and protective gear, as well as professional training services on how to play the sport for each school. The education will include after-school hockey and two different field trips to Ducks games at Honda Center.
“This really is a unique opportunity for the Samueli Foundation, to have their passion and love for health in youth teaming up with their love for hockey and make a difference,” said Gerald Solomon, Executive Director of the Samueli Foundation. “We hope to look at issues about health and nutrition, educate the children here and get them involved with this great sport.”
The other two schools in the district involved in the initial launch of the program are Saddleback High and Willard Intermediate. Street hockey will become part of the physical education rotation at Saddleback, while it will be an after-school sports activity at McFadden and Willard, coinciding with the NHL hockey season from October through March.
“We hope this will be substantial and lifelong for these kids,” Solomon said. “Data is clear that if you get kids involved in sports, the healthier they will be physically as well as emotionally and intellectually. We think that by getting them involved and getting them active, it should make a lifelong difference.”
Today’s event began with the delivery of the equipment in the official Duck Truck, with Wild Wing handing out the gear to the approximately four dozen sixth-graders in attendance. That was followed by remarks from Ryan, Solomon, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cathie Olsky and Principal Lisa Hinshaw about the importance of the program and the physical activity benefits of street hockey. Hinshaw, a former high school and college hockey goalie herself, was presented with the a Ducks jersey from Wild Wing.
“We’re so excited to be a part of this partnership with the Ducks, the Samueli Foundation, and the Santa Ana Unified School District,” Hinshaw said. “To bring a new activity and a new sport to our students is potentially life-changing. And the opportunity for new career paths, for getting them out of their neighborhood, for giving them opportunities to work cooperatively in a team setting is the most important life skill. We’re really excited and so grateful for so many reasons.”
Added Ryan, “This is the ultimate win-win-win situation I hope that somebody looks back in five years and says, ‘Wow, I remember that day.’”