Melissa Williams is happy to have floor hockey equipment that will actually fit her physical education students at General Beadle Elementary School.
Thanks to the Rapid City Rush and the Rush Foundation, General Beadle is one of 15 area schools set to receive donated floor hockey kits, including a pair of nets and goaltender sticks and a number of hockey sticks, all kid-sized for elementary age students.
“A lot of my sticks are older and heavier, too heavy for the kids, so this will give me some age-appropriate equipment that’ll make a big difference,” said Williams, in her 33rd year at the Rapid City school.
“The sticks are too long and the kids bend over and the top end hits somebody, so this is great,” she said.
The Rush and Rush Foundation announced the donation at a Monday news conference at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena. School officials, kids and parents were joined by several Rush players getting ready for next week’s training camp for the start of the 2013-14 Central Hockey League season.
Foundation board member and team medical director Dr. Chris Dietrich said a National Hockey League club fitness program inspired the project.
“We noticed the Penguins in Pittsburgh were doing a similar program called PensFIT, where they were trying to encourage physical activity, giving equipment to schools and getting kids interested in hockey,” Dietrich said.
“We talked to the P.E. teachers locally, and everybody was interested that the Rush Foundation could commit to this for our project this year,” he said.
The foundation funds projects through specialty jersey auctions throughout the CHL season and other donations. Dietrich said the floor hockey kits ranged from $350 to $700 per school.
“It’s a way to give back to the schools. Schools don’t have a lot of equipment,” Dietrich said.
Rush head coach and general manager Joe Ferras almost sounded envious as we watched some young players and members of the Rush play an impromptu game in the Ice Arena hallways.
“The nets look almost as good as the ones we use,” Ferras said.
“The big thing is this will give them another option in their PE classes. That’s something we feel strongly about. We want kids to have fun and stay active and just enjoy playing,” Ferras said. “Anytime we can give back as a Rush organization and the foundation, we’re very excited to do it.”
Williams was grateful to the foundation and said her students will enjoy playing floor hockey for years to come.
“Our kids are just so thrilled when someone shows them that they care. This is just a fantastic thing they’re doing,” Williams said.