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Ducks finalist for Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year

Community programs have Anaheim in running for ESPN award

by William Douglas @WDouglasNHL / Staff Writer

The Anaheim Ducks are a finalist for Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year honors.

It's the second consecutive year that the Ducks are a finalist in the team category of the Sports Humanitarian Awards presented by ESPN. The award will go to the team that "demonstrates how teamwork can create measurable impact on a community or cause."

"We're excited," said Wendy Arciero, director of community relations for the Ducks. "It's always nice to be recognized for the work that we're doing and what we feel like is making a positive impact in the community."

The winner will be announced July 9 at The Novo in Los Angeles. The other finalists are the Los Angeles Dodgers of MLB and two teams from MLS, the Chicago Fire and New York City FC.

ESPN will award the winner a $100,000 grant and each finalist a $25,000 grant, with the money to be directed to a qualified charity related to that team's humanitarian efforts. 

An independent selection committee recognized the Ducks as having "evolved from a hockey team to a platform for change in Orange County, California, investing in its own community programs and supporting a wide variety of nonprofits with funds and in-kind donations."

"It all starts with our ownership," Arciero said. "Henry and Susan Samueli lead the way and they set the tone for all of us in what we do in terms of investing back into the community, whether that's making a positive impact via education, trying to grow the sport and access to the sport to youth, adult special needs individuals, sled hockey, all of those things."

The Ducks S.C.O.R.E. program provides 60,000 elementary-school youth annually with a free, educational, standards-based curriculum that uses hockey as a prism for learning.

The team's annual First Flight Field Trip program brings more than 16,000 students to the Honda Center and exposes them to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) concepts taught by Anaheim players.

"The Ducks' practice turns into -- we call it the largest classroom in California," Arciero said. "The players, coaches, we kind of create a fun atmosphere to run through those lessons. They can see how those various things come to life on the ice and how it relates to hockey."

The organization exposes more than 18,000 students to hockey annually through its street hockey initiative and is involved with other community programs that bring hockey to more than 5,000 people with special needs each year.

The Ducks expanded their efforts to grow hockey in Southern California while reducing strain on the environment with the opening of Great Park Ice, their $110 million practice facility, late last year in Irvine. The 280,000-square-foot, four-rink facility, the largest in California, has environmentally friendly features that include electric ice resurfacing machines, ice sheets made from recycled water, and ample parking and charging stations for electric-powered vehicles.

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