Arizona Coyotes help GESD begin roller hockey program

By: 
DARRELL JACKSON, Glendale Star Staff Writer

Photos by Jim Cummings/GESD

Students at Bicentennial South play roller hockey during the debut of the new roller hockey curriculum presented by the Arizona Coyotes.
 

Bicentennial South physical education teacher Nikki Ferguson poses with the first group of students who participated in the new roller hockey curriculum presented by the Arizona Coyotes.
 

“It means the world to us because, working with budget crunches we are often considered on the outside looking in, and anytime we can get extra help from a professional team like the Coyotes, it helps us tremendously,” Bicentennial South physical education teacher Nikki Ferguson said.

After the Arizona Coyotes announced the introduction of a new set of physical education curriculum into local schools, with Glendale Elementary School District being one of the 16 districts announced as participating, Bicentennial South was the first to receive their equipment during a Dec. 7 event.
“We have very involved teachers and they work so hard in finding opportunities and (Bicentennial South physical education teacher Nikki) Ferguson brought it to our attention and asked if we could participate in the program,” GESD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Norman Jauregui said. “We (at the district) thought it was great idea and that is why this program is here. It really came directly from the teachers and wanted to implement it and work with the Coyotes and bring it to the kids.”
While Bicentennial South was the first to receive the equipment, Jauregui said it would be implemented district wide over the next week.
“I believe the equipment is being delivered district wide today, but the program should be up and running by next week,” Jauregui said.
The Arizona Coyotes announced Wednesday that they have partnered with the National Hockey League, the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) and the NHL’s Industry Growth Fund to create a street hockey curriculum for Valley students. The curriculum will be added to over 300 schools in Maricopa and Pima counties in the 2018-19 school year, 200 more schools in 2019-20 and another 200 schools in 2020-21.
Ferguson said they became part of the program through hockey fans.
“We got lucky because a fellow teacher who is a big hockey fan heard about this and mentioned it,” Ferguson said. “With the Coyotes working on player development, they used to have direct instruction if you called and asked, it has now evolved into a curriculum for teacher to do it and they are bringing it to schools.”
Ferguson added that the donations help the district as they suffer with budget issues and with physical education often one of the programs that are cut when budget issues arise.
“It means the world to us because, working with budget crunches we are often considered on the outside looking in, and anytime we can get extra help from a professional team like the Coyotes, it helps us tremendously,” Ferguson said.
The curriculum will impact kids from kindergarten through eighth grade with each school received $1,500 in Coyotes-branded street-hockey equipment, which will included 50 sticks, 50 balls, 50 two-colored vests, two hockey nets, a stick bag, a teacher’s gift backpack and a Coyotes-themed “Raise the Pack” banner.
“Our hockey development department has done a tremendous job growing the game of hockey in Arizona, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen said. “This program will allow us to get more sticks into the hands of kids and help educate them about our great game and promote youth health and wellness. We are grateful for the incredible support that we have received from all the Valley school districts and look forward to a great partnership in the future.”
The curriculum teaches kids the basics of hockey as well as how to play the game and introduce the game to students who may not have the opportunity to play hockey.
“The curriculum involves various components such as sportsmanship and the rules and guidelines of hockey and it is really trying to motivate students to understand how hockey can help them participate in a different team sport that maybe they would not have access to and so it is a unique sport that they can learn,” Jauregui said. “We normally don’t have this type of equipment so the great thing about the program is they get the equipment to use and the kids are really excited about it and we are excited about having that in our district.”
As the schools begin implementing the program, Ferguson is excited about the future of the program and points to the success of Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews, who is from Scottsdale.
“This program gives our kids to play something totally different and new they can learn the basics and help them become great hockey players, besides, look one of the best hockey players in the world is from Arizona,” Ferguson said. “Hopefully this program grows to all the schools in the state and helps grow the game here.”
The Coyotes have emphasized the development of youth hockey in Arizona, including among girls. Last summer, former Olympian Lyndsey Fry teamed with the Coyotes to create the only NHL-funded development program designed for girls only as she was hired as a special advisor.

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