When players from the Revelstoke Grizzlies Junior B hockey team popped into Columbia Park Elementary school last week, it’s safe to say the kids were stoked. The annual event is part of Subway’s league sponsorship and allows teams to head to a school, play a bit of floor hockey with a selected class, and have a free lunch.
“We rotate schools every year,” says Jacquie Federico, the Marketing Manager for the Grizzlies. “These school kids were so excited. They wanted autographs and they read books with the players after floor hockey. It was really great.”
For player #27, Raymond Speerbrecker, going back to the school was both nostalgic and rewarding. “He grew up in Revelstoke, and went to Columbia Park Elementary. He remembers when the Grizzlies came in to play when he was in school, so coming back as one of the players is pretty neat,” says Federico.
The Grizzlies help coach the minor hockey players during Revelstoke Hockey Day and are always ready to sign an autograph of give high five to the local kids. “A lot of kids want to play hockey or look up to the older hockey players,” says Federico. “It makes a difference to them when the interactions with older players are positive.”
As well as being excellent representatives of the Grizzlies, Federico also believes this year’s strong team is showing what the league can be for players. “It can be a stepping stone for higher level of juniors or for going to university on hockey scholarships,” she says.
Additionally, she notes, players learn the importance of volunteerism and community, make lifelong friends, learn to be a team players and develop a strong work ethic.
For local youth, the Grizzlies willingness to engage with them offers them a positive experience with the people they look up to.