On most days, students at Mary Ward Catholic Elementary School are dressed in their blue and white dress code gear. But on September 14, staff also got in on the action, and the blue and white was a little outside the norm, as students jumped on the Leafs preseason bandwagon, decked out in team gear for a visit from members of the team.
The visit was arranged by Christine Nicholson, Community Relations Manager with the Leafs. A graduate of Mary Ward, she thought it would be a great idea to bring players to her old school while they were participating in training camp in Niagara Falls. The team collaborated with software manufacturer EVERFI, which specializes in creating programs focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), using themes students can relate to. Hockey is something most Canadian students can relate to, and in Niagara, the Leafs are the Canadian hometown team.
While most of the school amped up the excitement in the gym, intermediate students who use the EVERFI program were in the library, where they met with players Ron Hainsey, Andreas Johnsson, Kaspari Kapanen, Josh Leivo, Curtis McIlinney and Morgan Rielly, who spoke to the students about what they are learning about how much science is involved in hockey, from the material used to manufacture sticks, skates and blades, to how blades are cut, to the weight of equipment and the trajectory of the puck down the ice and off the boards. Then they handed out Leafs training camp swag bags to students and took time to sign autographs for students and staff.
They all made their way into the gym a short time later, joined by Leafs mascot Carlton the Bear, to take part in a panel discussion about topics like the players’ favourite subjects, favourite foods and what they eat before games, how they relax in the off-season, role models and goal setting.
Based on the screams, the visit will be the high point of the brand new school year for some time to come.
Every student in the school took home one of the Leafs loot bags – which contained a nylon sack, water bottle and official training camp towel – at the end of the day.
Take a peek through these photos, then jump over to our Facebook page for more. And if you wish you could have seen the visit, including the full panel discussion, click here
for the full video.