The National Hockey League and Washington Capitals refurbished 'Watkins Rush Rink,' a street hockey rink at the Watkins Elementary School and Recreation Center in Southeast Washington, D.C. as part of the NHL's Legacy Initiative, an on-going philanthropic endeavor in which the League, the local Club, and League partners support community organizations in the host city of an NHL event. Thanks to the generous support of NHL partners Bridgestone, Franklin, Constellation, Pepco, ECORE International, and CleanRiver Recycling Solutions, as well as local support from D.C. Parks & Recreation and D.C. Public Schools, the legacy initiative invested more than $115,000 into the community. Contributions include:
•Brand new Sport Court
•New team benches
•Rubber matting surrounding the rink made from 170 recycled tires
•Updated energy efficient lighting
•New goalie nets
•New recycle bin receptacles
•New street hockey equipment
In addition to what was donated to 'Watkins Rush Rink,' street hockey development and training was provided by the Washington Capitals for 23 physical education teachers in 21 D.C. public schools to implement the sport into their programming, and to promote an active and healthy lifestyle for youth through hockey. All of these schools received brand new street hockey equipment including sticks, balls, nets, and goalie pads, which will benefit more than 8,000 local students. Twelve lucky Watkins Elementary School students were the first to use the new street hockey rink, alongside Washington Capitals alumni Sylvain Cote, Rod Langway, and Alan May.
"While the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be memorable in a host of ways, it is a priority for the National Hockey League that the impact of this outstanding event lasts long after the game concludes," National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "By refurbishing Watkins Rush Rink, we hope to provide a source of fun and fitness to generations of youngsters who want to enjoy street hockey – while also supporting our commitment to environmentally friendly initiatives."
"The Winter Classic is a fabulous showcase and celebration of hockey, and our partnership in the NHL's Legacy program will have a lasting impact on the Southeast D.C. community for years to come through the refurbishment of the Watkins Rush Rink," said Ted Leonsis, founder and chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. "We have participated in and witnessed a tremendous growth in local amateur hockey during the last decade, and this street hockey opportunity will introduce even more boys and girls to the sport. The Winter Classic, while a New Year’s Day spectacle, is more than just one game; it’s an event that impacts our team, our fans and our city. It’s an exciting time and opportunity for our organization and community."
"DPR is appreciative of the gift of the equipment and renovations to the Watkins Rush Rink from the NHL and the Washington Capitals," said Dr. Sharia Shanklin, acting director, D.C. Department of Parks & Recreation. "These organizations reached out to DPR so they could give back to this community and to help DPR bolster and expand our sports’ programs and opportunities for youth to participate in both street and ice hockey. These improvements will help spread the "Rock the Red" spirit across the District at the Winter Classic at Nationals Park on January 1, 2015 but also here in our neighborhood on a daily basis."