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Stars' partnership with St. Philip's School 'goes far beyond hockey'

The team has dedicated $2 million to the school over the next five years for its NHL Winter Classic Legacy Project

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

DALLAS -- Marty Turco gets his charitable spirit from his mom, Alma.

The Turco family matriarch would often do good deeds for neighbors when young Marty was growing up, and it had a big impact.

"I first saw my mother give back to people who never asked for help, and I was inspired by that," Turco said Monday at an event to announce the Stars' NHL Winter Classic Legacy Project with St. Philip's School and Community Center.

"She would go to a lady's house and cut her hair because she thought it was the right thing to do. I paid attention to that."

It's one of the reasons Turco is in the job he's in as president of the Dallas Stars Foundation, but it's also one of the reasons he's so good at it. The 2006 NHL Foundation Award winner as best community service man in the league understands not only the impact of what he's doing now, but the impact of paying things forward.

That subject was at the center of Monday's festivities.

"To have a team come to the inner city and invest for the long-term is unprecedented," said Dr. Terry Flowers, the headmaster at St. Philip's. "So for the Stars to take this kind of leap and set an example for others to hopefully emulate, it can turn your successes into significance and have an influence on even more lives."

The Stars have dedicated $2 million over the next five years to help build a multi-sport athletic complex and also assist with funding for after-school programs and summer initiatives. The inner-city private school serves 240 students in grades Pre-K2 through 6th, and also serves more than 3,000 children and their families with the community center. The NHL also is contributing $75,000.

The entire operation is part of the NHL's Legacy Project and typically is done when a team hosts a major event like the Winter Classic. St. Philip's School is a mile and a half away from Cotton Bowl Stadium, where the 2020 Winter Classic will be played Wednesday. And while that event put the idea into the heads of the Stars, the decision to team with St. Philip's was more like fate.

Turco and foundation director Chelsea Livingston were tasked with finding a good partner, and team president Brad Alberts said he couldn't be happier.

"Marty and Chelsea deserve all of the credit," Alberts said. "I told them to come up with the idea for our Legacy Project, and they did it, and it is perfect. The first time I stepped on the campus, I knew there was synergy there between their school and our team, and I'm just looking forward to seeing what we can do to help. I think we will be working here for a long, long time."

That is Turco's plan, as well. The Stars have been working with St. Philip's for a year now and Turco said he sees the bond going well beyond the five-year window. In fact, he thinks the team could eventually expand its impact in South Dallas. The combination is an odd one when hockey is introduced to youngsters who might not be familiar with the game, but the correlation is more about the bigger picture of what sports can offer.

"We do know hockey and we do want to share that with them, but I think it really can be any sport," Turco said. "I think if you look at hockey, you have to have teamwork and you have to have hard work, and I think those are good lessons for life. So that's how I look at this."

The Dallas Police Hockey Foundation is on board with helping, as is the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. The Ripken group helps set up youth activities to introduce sports as a conduit for growth, while the Dallas Police hockey players will assist in running activities to set up a nice community exchange with students and parents.

"We're not trying to create hockey players, we're not trying to promote hockey, we just want to be a good community partner," said Alberts. "If hockey helps in that process, that's fine, but this goes so far beyond hockey."

Dr. Flowers said the initiative is greatly appreciated.

"At St. Philip's, we say a child can't be what a child can't see, and so getting kids exposure to the sport and the athletes has been great," he said with Stars players Jamie Oleksiak, Anton Khudobin, Denis Gurianov and Jason Dickinson on board for activities Monday.

"The Stars have players from all over the world, and that's a great thing for us. Just that interaction helps a child see things differently in life."

Dr. Flowers has been with St. Philip's since 1983 and has helped change the community by expanding the positive reach of the school. Now, he believes even greater things can be accomplished.

"This is unbelievable to reflect back on what this neighborhood used to look like and the challenges we have faced. What it can be going forward is even more impressive," he said. "At one point, this community had kind of given up, but now there is a sense of hope and pride and a feeling of promise."

Turco learned the power of giving early from his mom and has used it throughout his career -- first at the University of Michigan and then with the Stars and other NHL teams. He acknowledges that this is his job now and that he is expected to do these things, but he also believes that with maximum effort he can drive future NHL Legacy events to higher goals because the Stars are setting the bar high in Dallas.

Y'know, set an example for those watching.

Alma Turco died in 2014 from kidney cancer, but her spirit lives on in her son and what he is accomplishing now.

"Thank you for your commitment, but more importantly for the example you set not just here in Dallas, but across the country," Dr. Flowers said.

"Where else will you find a team that has dedicated as much time to a neighborhood like this? … It's remarkable, but it also sets an example for other organizations to take a look at."

Photos by Tim Heitman

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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