Ducks make their mark on Maxwell Elementary
NOV 15, 2012 3:15p ET
Head coach Bruce Boudreau, a man normally accustomed to offering direction and giving commands, used the opportunity to step back for a moment in a supervisory position.
“Listen,” Boudreau said, “if I barked orders, I’d have no idea what I’d be talking about. My wife’s already kicked me off my mural. She said ‘get out of here, you’ll destroy it.’ So I’m sort of just going around and being amazed at what is being done. Like, building a hockey rink in a school - that’s pretty cool.”
The project culminated with a Reading Is the Goal Day when the students returned on Tuesday as coaches, staff members and broadcasters visited individual classrooms. After some street hockey, the kids gathered in the newly created rink as John Ahlers, the Ducks’ play-by-play broadcaster on Prime Ticket, read to the kids from Brady Brady and the Great Rink, a book with hockey roots that seemed entirely appropriate on a clear and warm autumn day.
“Kids are the salt of the earth,” Ahlers said. “It’s fun to talk to them and listen to the questions they ask, and see, in just the short time since the Samuelis have owned us, how much more of an impact we’ve had, because those kids – I then in turn see them come out to games. When I come back the next year, I see them wearing Ducks gear, I see them wearing Ducks t-shirts and it has made an impact. You know, I mean, 10 years is a long time for you and I, but it’s a pretty short period of time for an organization to do something like that. But to have a tangible difference that you can see in that short a period of time is something we should all be proud of.”
The school makeover was a part of the club’s Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation and Education (S.C.O.R.E.) program, a healthy outreach program designed to enrich the lives and activity of elementary school students in Southern California. At a grassroots level, Ducks employees, alumni, sponsors and season ticket holders are immersing themselves as community organizers in enacting tangible development of resources – which, on Monday, saw Scott Niedermayer join the cause by digging holes and planting trees along the schoolyard perimeter.
“It’s important to get out,” Niedermayer said. “This is a community, what we call home, and to get out here to help out and be visible, all that helps everybody. It helps us, it helps the school here, helps the kids, so it’s a great situation for everyone.”
With no professional hockey being played in Orange County, community outreach events take center stage as the Ducks look to remain in the foreground of the region’s landscape while simultaneously giving a an appreciated “facelift” to a school in need, according to Maxwell principal Marcy Chant.
“This is just such a gift to us. There are huge budget cuts,” Chant said. “Magnolia School Disctrict has been very, very successful at managing their money, but there’s not a lot of room for extras. So we’re thrilled that we can have murals, that we can brighten the campus.”
“And that’s something we wouldn’t have in this day and age without the Ducks.”
As Niedermayer planted a tree, Ahlers was assigned to mural duty and Boudreau walked from station to station offering encouragement, amazed by the collective efforts of his fellow volunteers.
“The trees are a great idea, and then the murals, they’re going to look so beautiful, because they’re doing a great job,” Boudreau said. “I think it’s a really, really cool project, and much more than I thought. You know, I had no idea. When they were saying ‘beautification of a school,’ I thought we were just going to sweep the grounds or something. But this is pretty neat.”
The efforts to bring the Ducks to Maxwell were coordinated by fourth grade teacher Kristin Jones, a season ticket holder who shares her seats with another teacher in the district and is active in the team’s community and scholastic programs. 25,000 students annually are impacted by the S.C.O.R.E. program.
“It’s amazing. It shows how much they value education, how much they value schools, and these kids are going to look up to these guys as role models forever,” Chant said. “So we’re thrilled.”
The team is forbidden from contacting its active players during the lockout, thus complicating public relations possibilities and increasing the value of having a large alumni base in the area, including Jeff Friesen, who took part in Reading Is the Goal Day and coaches in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League.
There’s also Niedermayer, who continues to be an active figure in the team’s outreach, something that he’s more than happy to be a part of.
“We’re still calling it home here, and if they ask me to pop out, it’s easy to do,” he said. “I have a bit of time now, obviously, and my kids are getting older, so to lend a hand to other kids in the area is a great thing.”