Last month, the Carolina Hurricanes Promotions and Fan Development department held the first ever Jr. Storm Squad clinic for twenty-five energetic and hockey-crazed young girls. They took part in a two-day event, the first of which was a three-hour clinic and second was a live “performance” at a Hurricanes game with the Eye Care Associates Storm Squad.
Thrilled to be a part of the first Jr. Storm Squad, the girls showed up eager to learn, dance, and were filled with excitement to meet their role models on the Storm Squad. The clinic took place on Monday March 16th, and started off with an exclusive tour of the RBC Center; the girls walked through the media room, visiting team locker rooms, Storm Squad locker room, went to the press box, and walked through the video control room. They also went and touched the Olympias and got to go down and feel the ice.
Each of the Storm Squad members at the clinic spoke to the girls about their many responsibilities on game day, including pre-game preparation, in-game activities and promotions, and what it was like to be on the best fan development team in the NHL. Each member spoke about different character traits that relate to being such visible people at games and members in the community, such as self-confidence, determination, perseverance, enthusiasm, and teamwork. Director of Community Development and Motivational Consultant for the Carolina Hurricanes, Doris Barksdale, was a guest speaker and discussed with the girls how to think positively about themselves, work hard to achieve their goals, and to not let others lower their self-esteem.
The second half of the clinic seemed to be the girls’ favorite part, as they practiced slinging shirts into the stands from the Voms and learned the official Storm Squad “Penalty Kill” dance. With the help of the Storm Squad, each girl took turns slinging the t-shirts and realized just how much strength was needed to pull back on the slings (I think a few of them must have gone home and done push-ups so they could be ready for the game later in the week). When the girls began learning the “Penalty Kill’ dance, I was amazed at how quickly they were able to pick up the moves – they definitely had been watching the Storm Squad at games to prepare for the clinic!
Before heading home, the girls made large signs with the Hurricanes and Storm Squad logos, markers, and crayons that they would bring with them to the game later in the week to cheer with. They were able to take them home to work on, and a prize of an autographed photo of Eric Staal was awarded to the best and most creative poster. Winner Nicki T. created an awesome poster complete with a shiny Stanley Cup! The girls also got signed Storm Squad calendars along with Storm Squad t-shirts, tattoos to wear to the game, pom-poms, Stormy bobbleheads, and a Jr. Storm Squad booklet with trivia, games, and bios and pictures of the Storm Squad. They had everything they needed for their performance!
The Jr. Storm Squad made their big debut at the Friday March 20th game against the NY Islanders. Dressed from head to toe in Canes gear, their Jr. Storm Squad shirts, and even with glitter and ribbons in their hair, the girls were more than ready to show off everything they had learned in the clinic the previous Monday. They performed during the first two periods of the game, with groups paired with Storm Squad members in each of the four Voms. They cheered, clapped their hands to the music, and screamed wildly for the Hurricanes as the game progressed. They were even more excited when they saw themselves up on the jumbotron and heard the Jr. Storm Squad announced over the loudspeaker in the arena.
Both nights were filled with much excitement and new things to see and do, but the game brought out the true “stars” in each of the young girls as they spent the evening paired with the older Storm Squad members they looked up to. After a successful first run this year, we are hoping to have a second Jr. Storm Squad for next season to continue educating and building self-confidence in young Caniacs. So keep your eyes and ears open for information on next year’s Jr. Storm Squad clinic!