On Monday, April 9 at 11:15 a.m., 8,460 school-aged children took to the streets for a parade to the MTS Centre to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience, attending a world- class women’s hockey game designated the “Manitoba Hydro Schools Game.”
About 120 schools from all over Manitoba watched Russia’s 4-1 victory over Germany. All young attendees enjoyed a hotdog, bag of chips, and drink, which was included with their subsidized $10 ticket and handed out by the Carmen Cougars Bantam girls hockey team. Each youth was also given a horn by Manitoba Hydro to add to the fun and increased volume at this game.
In addition, the Winnipeg Foundation and Manitoba Hydro donated tickets in order for underprivileged youth to attend.
The first group of students arrived before the last one even left the Forks, a well-known Winnipeg cultural centre and riverside marketplace, but it only took 15 minutes for the parade to go down Graham Avenue.
John Einarsson, practicum student from the University of Manitoba’s Recreation Management and Sport Development Program, organized the Schools Game event.
“It’s really been amazing,” said Einarsson. “Things come up that you don’t quite realize. Watching the kids come off the bus, I was really excited to see their smiles. They’re all happy to be here. They’re all just pumped up.”
Einarsson also commented that it was most likely the largest schools game that’s ever been done in Canada.
Arla Beachell, Vice-Principal of R.W. Bobby Bend School in Stonewall, Manitoba, couldn’t say enough about how well-organized the game was today.
“I think it’s been absolutely amazing,” said Beachell. “It’s been extremely organized. There’s obviously been a lot of thought put into this. They’ve thought of everything from what I can see.”
Manitoba Hydro, a game sponsor, had a large set-up on the third floor where children could take part in interactive Power Smart games. Hydro’s mascot, Electrosaurus, made sure that no child left without a prize. CanWest Global’s CanSpell program encouraged kids in the audience to spell out PowerSmart during the second period intermission. About 40 Hydro volunteers came out on their day off to help with the event.
The LA Elite Dance Team from Winnipeg provided ushering and cheering encouragement to the school fans at each entrance of the seating area.
Grand Rapids First Nations School had the longest trek to Winnipeg, being located about 400 kilometres north of Winnipeg. Their experience was eye-opening, as many of the students had never been to Winnipeg before.
“This might put a drive on some of our girls to play hockey too,” said Stephen Lutes, a Grand Rapids teacher.
Selkirk’s Robert Smith School was also in attendance this afternoon. It was supplied with tickets and a bus for its students through two local companies, 2 Small Men with Big Hearts and Studio Publications.
Zachary, Colton, Olivia, and Teaghan from Selkirk were eager to comment on the game. “It was cool and fun,” they said. These four students agreed that the game inspired them to play hockey more in the future. Zachary noted that he wanted to go out and rent hockey movies after being at the MTS Centre.
Teacher Rick Kraychuk from Seven Oaks Middle School joked with one of his students: “A bad day of hockey is better than a good day at school, eh?”
Kraychuk mentioned that some Seven Oaks students had already attended games and watched Canada on television Saturday evening. The school currently runs a mixed hockey academy that teaches hockey skills to youth.
The parade from the MTS Centre was safely guided back to the Forks following the game. Hats off to the organizing committee on this one--it was a fantastic turn-out.