Some local kids got the opportunity of a lifetime last week as students from Mattie Lou Maxwell Elementary in Anaheim were welcomed as special guests at the Anaheim Ducks Rookie Camp.
As a part of the Anaheim Ducks’ S.C.O.R.E. Day, fifth and sixth graders from the school attended a practice held at Anaheim Ice where they got to see Ducks prospects and rookies train in preparation for the upcoming season.
The students watched as names like Nic Kerdiles (Ducks 2012 NHL Entry Draft second-round pick), Rickard Rakell (Ducks 2011 NHL Entry Draft first-round pick) and Nick Ritchie (Ducks 2014 NHL Entry Draft first-round pick) ran through drills and a scrimmage in hopes of making a good impression with the Ducks’ coaching staff. From the stands, the kids cheered for every highlight-reel goal and spectacular save throughout the morning.
The 28 students in attendance were selected for this unique event due to their past participation in the Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E Street Hockey program at their school, a free 10-day physical education curriculum that the Ducks provide to local partner schools, developed in conjunction with the California Physical Education Standards for 4th grade students.
After practice concluded, the students and the players ate lunch together inside the rink’s Club 32, while the students interviewed the players and gathered information they will use to complete a writing assignment and class presentation.
The questions asked of the players, developed by the students and teachers prior to the event, ranged from the curious, “Have you ever cried on the ice?” to the insightful, “Did you go to college? If so, do you think it helped you as a professional athlete?”
Mattie Lou Maxwell fourth grade teacher, Kristin Jones, knows this was a once in a lifetime experience for these kids.
“We’re encouraging the students to work on their interviewing skills and the development of primary sources for their writing assignment,” said Jones. “From the information they’ve gathered, they will write about the experience in a personal narrative and then present to the class what they’ve learned.
“Because these kids have played and represented our school in the Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Street Hockey program, they understand the game and can appreciate watching the practice and hearing what these players have to say.”
As the players sat down to eat and chat with the students, there were some nerves to start, on both sides of the table. But after the conversations got going, the kids and players were all smiles. Ducks captain, Ryan Getzlaf, and right-winger, Corey Perry, even stopped by briefly to check in on the group. By the end of the meal, many of the students said this was “a really fun experience” and “a lot of fun.”
The players enjoyed it as well.
“It’s been great to meet these kids,” said Ducks prospect Nic Kerdiles. “They’re just trying to get to know us and find out about our background. I’ve been telling them about my time at [University of] Wisconsin and how important school is.
“Being from here (Irvine), it’s great to see the growth of the game locally.”
And while the learning experience behind this day may have been focused on the students, Anaheim Ducks Director of Player Development, Todd Marchant, says these types of events are just as important for the club’s prospects.
“It’s a requirement for these players to be a part of the community,” said Marchant. “It starts with Henry and Susan [Samueli]. It’s a part of our culture to support our community as an organization.
“It’s a unique, but casual setting here today with the communication and interaction. Both the kids and the players take a lot away from this.”
The Ducks newest first-round draft pick, Nick Ritchie, agrees that this is all a part of the Rookie Camp experience.
“It’s great to see all of these kids here, and it’s great to give back to the community,” said Ritchie. “It’s been a good week.”
And for the kids from Mattie Lou Maxwell Elementary, being able to enjoy a meal and conversation with some of hockey’s future stars is an experience they won’t soon forget.
The award-winning Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E. (Scholastic Curriculum Of Recreation & Education) program, developed in 2005, has been impacting over 28,000 students annually throughout Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties through in-class education and physical education initiatives, all provided for free to participating schools.
For more information, visit ducksscore.com.