Hockey School: The New York Rangers are Cheering for Children
New York Rangers may be struggling a bit as a hockey team, but
their commitment to the community in general, and education in
particular, is well-thought-out and organized.
want to be known as more than just a bunch of guys who skate fast
and body-check hard,” said Rangers star Brian Leetch whose team
is in third place in the NHL Eastern Conference Atlantic Division.
“We want to counter the fighting stereotype, you know the ‘I went
to a boxing match and the hockey-game broke out’ stuff. This organization
understands that we, the players, are role-models to children
and the importance of giving back to people who may not be as
fortunate as we are.”
To honor that commitment and to best utilize its vast resources
in this area, Madison Square Garden formed the Cheering for Children
Foundation in January of 1998. The Foundation partnered with the
non-profit organization The After-School Corporation (TASC), and
assigned to each of its five entities a different borough as its
focus. The Rangers are responsible for Queens.
decided to focus on after-school programs,” said Rangers PR Director
Jason Vogel. “Study after study point to the centrality of after-school
options in solving many of the problems plaguing the city’s young
people. It’s a key to inspiring young people to think beyond their
circumstances while acting as a deterrent to the very real roadblocks
of crime, teenage pregnancy, drugs, alcoholism, and delinquency.”
To achieve its goals, Cheering for Children has sent over 1,000
players–superstars Leetch and Mark Messier have been particularly
popular–staff members, on-air talent, and famous former stars,
such as Rod Gilbert, to schools in Queens for up-close talks,
lectures, meetings and, of course, hockey clinics. But, that’s
not all. The team has gone way beyond these basics.
The Foundation also established MSG New York Rangers Clubs and
funded an educational curriculum that includes an instructional
guide and student workbooks. “We tried very hard to build on the
students’ basic interest in sports and sports stars in order to
achieve a multi-faceted curriculum,” said Vogel.
The curriculum includes geography lessons, taking advantage of
the fact that hockey is the most international of the four major
American sports these days—Ranger players hail from Russia, the
Czech Republic and many other corners of the universe. The curriculum
also includes far-ranging lessons, such as “How to Make a Media
Guide,” “How the Body Works,” “How to Merchandise a Sports Franchise,”
and, of course, the “Importance of Exercise” and “Basic hockey
Art projects and story writing, all involving the New York Rangers,
are also an important part of the often interactive, always hands-on,
lessons are all student-centered and project based,” said Vogel.
“Though they’re all connected to the regular school curriculum,
they are specifically designed to be different, exciting, and
The curriculum, created by Scholastic, is particularly focused
upon strengthening reading and writing skills. “They are the basics,”
said Leetch. “And just like in hockey, you can’t possibly win
in life without the basics.”#
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