Four years ago Kaseir Archie hated hockey.
The 15-year-old had no interest in playing or even learning about the sport. After all, it wasn’t one that was discussed much or even played in the streets or playgrounds of his Kensington neighborhood.
Then something funny happened.
Scott hartnell talks about his donation to the kids of snider hockey... WATCH HERE
“I didn’t even want to sign up to play hockey,” Archie said. “But one of the (Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation members) kept telling me how much fun it was, and how much I was going to enjoy playing. Eventually I gave in and said I would try it. I still didn’t think I would like it, but here it is four years later and I love the sport.”
Simply sounds like another success story for Snider hockey, right?
Well yes, but the mission has not been just to turn inner city kids onto the sport, but rather reward them with opportunities beyond their wildest dreams.
For Archie and nine of his friends from Snider hockey, one of those dreams is going to be realized next week thanks to the combined efforts of Snider Hockey and the #HartnellDown Foundation created last year by Flyers forward Scott Hartnell.
As a result, 10 players from Snider Hockey will accompany Hartnell and fellow Flyers Wayne Simmonds and Harry Zolneirczyk at the Minnesota Hockey Camps in Brainerd Lakes, Minnesota.
“I’m really excited for these kids to come to Minnesota and experience a week in the life of what the pros do to prepare for the season,” Hartnell said. “It should be an awesome week.”
Hartnell met the 10 players Tuesday at Skate Zone and presented them with a Flyers gift bag that included #HartnellDown t-shirts depicting what is called the “Hart Trick” – three drawings of a stick figure with wild, curly hair (presumably Hartnell) one of him falling down, one of him scoring a goal and one of him in a fight with another, poor stick figure.
“It was really fun and exciting for me to meet Scott today,” said Tracy Robinson, a 13-year-old from Northeast Philadelphia who has been a pretty impressive Snider Hockey success story himself. “I’ve gotten a chance to meet a few Flyers and go to the Winter Classic in Boston and play hockey on the pond there, but this was the first time I met Scott Hartnell. He was really fun and good to talk to. I really enjoyed it.”
The kids attending the camp were nominated by their coaches, with final selections being made based on their effort, behavior, commitment and achievements on the ice, in their neighborhoods, and in school. They were selected from a pool of approximately 1,200 participants in after school programs from Philadelphia and Camden.
Joining Archie and Robinson on the trip will be Joel Castro, Michael Fahringer, John Forsythe, DiQuan Jackson, Eric Martinez, Nasir Sibert-White and Dillon Trainor, all of Philadelphia and Carlos Diaz of Camden.
While many of the players were most interested in what the flight to Minnesota was going to be like – mostly because many of them have never been on a plane before, Hartnell added that the way the camp is run was going to be a true glimpse into the world of preparation that a professional athlete has to undertake prior to their season.
“We’re going to get there and really dive in,” Hartnell said. “We skate twice a day and work out two or three times a day. Basically you live, breathe and sleep hockey. It’s good for these kids to come from Philadelphia and experience it… It’s going to be a real eye-opener for these kids.”
Maybe not for Archie, who seems to have a firm grasp of what lies ahead next week.
“To me this is going to be a fun trip to take with my friends, but physically I know it’s going to be hard – but that’s good because I want to see how far I can push myself physically,” Archie said. “I want to improve my mental toughness so I can be a stronger all-around player in the upcoming season.”