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Bylsma Joins Team Children’s Sports Fest

by Greg Fernandez / Pittsburgh Penguins

Echoing through the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center was the sound of head coach Dan Bylsma’s stick slapping the ice. Whistle in hand, Bylsma was running a practice.

But his players were a little different, and smaller, compared to the ones he normally sees during the season.

Pens coach Bylsma teaches kids at Team Children's 2012 Sports Fest

Bylsma, University of Pittsburgh Men’s Basketball head coach Jamie Dixon and other coaches around the Pittsburgh area teamed up with the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation for its first Team Children’s 2012 Sports Fest: Champions at Play.

Even though he was out on the ice with a different group of players, it’s not going to be much different for Bylsma, who joked that some of his Penguins players are like little kids out on the ice too.

“I think for the kids its certainly having fun with the game, learning a little bit about it,” Byslma said before stepping out onto the ice. “There is certainly some health and fitness awareness that we hope to get to them as well.”

The six-hour sports carnival featured a wide variety of activities for kids, ranging from hockey, basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, lacrosse and other sports to help promote the benefits of fitness and good nutrition.

Susan Salyards, the Director of Affiliated Organizations and Events For the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, said the whole event was made possible when the coaches wives all came together to in hopes of starting an event that would encompass children as well as adults for a day of fun.

With the kids, Byslma was everywhere on the ice, running the young hockey players through different drills to help them hone their puck handling skills, improve their skating and even giving them a chance to show off their favorite celebration after scoring a goal.

“Really, it’s about (the kids) having a great experience, having fun, seeing Iceburgh and seeing some of the sports teams in town,” Bylsma said. “To have this event to raise money for the Children’s Hospital, I think is so important for the hospital and for the kids in the community. “

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