It’s a goal for the New York Rangers Youth Street Hockey Program.
On Thursday, January 28, former Ranger Andre Dore showed up at McKinley Junior High School, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway, to participate in drills and clinics with the kids from both the McKinley Beacon Program and the Carey Gardens Cornerstone Program in Coney Island in an event presented by Coca-Cola and the HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services (HSVS) McKinley Beacon Program.
“A lot of these kids don’t have an opportunity to play like I did,” Dore said. “It’s really nice to come and spend a little time because if all you did was teach them one thing, then it was successful. These kids will turn around and start thinking it’s cool to do with their other friends and look at the group of kids out there.”
HSVS McKinley Beacon Program Director Joseph Impeduglia declared the event a huge success.
“I’ve been with the organization for 20 years and it’s one of the best events we’ve had. We have a professional New York Ranger player here, taking his time out to be with inner city children,” he said, adding that the kids were thrilled. “These kids have been playing two months now. We introduced hockey to these children and they have a passion for it now and that’s the best thing we could offer.”
Students were thrilled to have a former player converse with them as well as sign plenty of autographs.
“We told the kids when we first started playing hockey that this could be a possibility and they were so dedicated. They came to every practice,” said HSVS McKinley Beacon Program Assistant Director Sarah Lanza. “This doesn’t happen in our community a lot for professionals to come so it’s really a bonus for them. It’s something we made them earn because we said it was a privilege to meet a player. Last night, they were helping build these nets and were so excited.”
“It’s amazing and great that we have people coming to neighborhood to speak to the youth and inspire kids and get them excited about hockey. It’s a great extracurricular activity,” added Jaleel Johnson, a group leader for the program.
After the games concluded, Dore gave out autographed photos to every kid and expressed his gratitude in being asked to participate in the event, which took place in the school gym.
“In a city with so much diversity where you don’t have an opportunity to get on the ice and play competitive hockey, this is like the next best thing,” he said. “You could see how much they enjoy it. You can how some of them come out of their shell.”