The 2015 Special Olympics World Games are taking place in Los Angeles – with all events ranging from July 25th through August 2nd at 19 different venues across the city.
Athletes representing Barbados and Macedonia – whose teams are being hosted by the city of El Segundo, visited the Toyota Sports Center on Thursday afternoon to take a tour of the Kings’ practice facility.
After having lunch at the facility’s upstairs ‘Kings Cove’ restaurant, the athletes made their way to the Kings’ front offices where they began their tour. Daryl Evans led the group through the first stages of their tour, with Jim Fox escorting the back-end of the pack.
As the athletes made their way through the front offices, Vice President of Hockey Operations and Director of Player Personnel Michael Futa greeted them as he worked from his desk.
And as both hockey players and Special Olympics athletes know, the gym is a vital part of their daily routines. Head Athletic trainer Chris Kingsley gave a tour of the Kings’ brand-new workout facility - explaining different workouts that the players go through on a day-to-day basis to stay in shape during the season.
Tyler Toffoli even showed them how he uses the Elliptical machine…
Alec Martinez worked on some dumbbell curls…
Jeff Carter’s tooth-gap simply wowed…
The next stop was the Kings’ video room, where the athletes joined players Alec Martinez, Jeff Carter, and Tyler Toffoli to watch a special video presentation of the Kings’ run to their 2014 Stanley Cup Championship.
A tour of the locker room was next on the agenda, where Jim Fox explained a few components of players equipment and Daryl Evans gave a rundown of the players' daily practice routines and game-day preparations.
Following the locker room tour, the athletes made their way to the players’ lounge, where they participated in Q&A with Carter, Martinez, and Toffoli. Here, the athletes learned more about the sport of hockey, the players, were able to have pictures taken with them, and received autographed photographs.
Jim Fox even explained the rough side of the game...
Alec Martinez spent a few moments after the day's events to share some of this thoughts about meeting the Special Olympics athletes: Martinez, on the day with the athletes:
"It was a really cool event; it was a good opportunity for a couple of us who were in town to give back. You know, [these athletes] are cheering us on, and it was our turn to do the same." On how refreshing it was to speak with athletes who were unfamiliar with hockey:
"Yeah, absolutely. I don't think there was one of them who had skated on ice before, so they were learning a lot. We had a video for them of the 2014 playoff run, I think that they enjoyed that. They enjoyed the weight room, I think they had some competitions amongst each other to lift certain weights that were sitting up there, it was really cool." On how special it was to be a part of their visit to Los Angeles:
"That's the best part. When they walk into the facility, walk into the workout room, and their faces just light up, and you start smiling - especially when we watched that [2014 playoff run] video together. I know I was smiling, and they were too. Like I said, I don't think there was one of them who had ever ice skated before, so for them just to be exposed to it, and to be around a rink to kind of get a taste of what we do day-in and day-out, and really seeing the looks on their faces, that'll really make you feel good, and that's what it's all about." On how Chris Sutter's relationship with the team put things into perspective:
"Yeah, it's awesome. I mean, Chris is around the room all of the time. I've known Chris for a long time, it's really cool. Chirs is a huge part of our room, and I know he's involved in a bunch of other sports - I know bowling being one of them. Obviously he's really tied in with us, he loves the game of hockey, so he gives us that link. Like I said, it's awesome - you see the kids faces light up when you walk in, and that's something really special."