On Wednesday, January 20, the Nashville Predators welcomed the Whitten Elementary after school program to the Preds Street Pride Program.
The Nashville Predators Youth and Amateur Hockey staff armed with a truckload of street hockey sticks, nets, goalie equipment and balls, set out to deliver hockey knowledge to the boys and girls clubs 5th grade students of Whitten Elementary along with the opportunity for them to play street hockey.
The 60 eager faces listened intently as Andee Boiman, Preds Amateur and Youth Hockey Manager, explained this new sport to them, the history of the team, and some of the basic skills. The excited children were then exposed to their first hockey drill; a stickhandling relay race from one end of the gymnasium to the other. Split into teams with sticks in their hands, the kids excitedly raced each other displaying their newly acquired skills. After that came their first of many scrimmages to come. Two teams were made, each with a goalie suited-up in brand new street hockey equipment. The competition was fierce and the excitement was great. They were thrilled with playing this new sport.
When it seemed as though their interest couldn’t be any greater, in to the gym came Gnash – the Predators beloved mascot. The gym erupted with cheers, each team trying to get Gnash on to their team. When the game ended, the kids found out that everything they had been using to play today (and some more equipment) was all a gift to their school so they could play any time they wanted. Not only this, but they were invited to attend the Nashville Predators play the Colorado Avalanche on February 4, and so the children were left looking forward to coming to their first (for most of them) hockey game, and to playing hockey many more times.
The Nashville Predators Street Pride program is a league-wide street hockey program in which the Preds partner with youth community centers to donate free street hockey equipment, staff training and follow-up clinics. There are over 40 centers participating in Preds Street Pride program through middle Tennessee including YMCA’s, Boys & Girls Clubs and community centers. This free grassroots hockey development program emphasizes that all a kids needs to play hockey are sneakers, breaking down any socio-economic barriers associated with the sport.