Sudbury Wolves players Kevin Raine and Connor Crisp sat in the gym in front of the more than 500 students who attend the school, and read them a book called “Where's My Hockey Sweater?” Afterwards, they answered students' questions.
“I kind of felt like I was going into an opening face-off when I stepped in front of all of those people,” Crisp said.
By taking part in the event, the hockey players said they wanted to get across to the students the importance of education and literacy.
While neither of them is in school right now, choosing instead to focus on their hockey careers, they say they may eventually end up in college or university, as only a small percentage of hockey players make it into the NHL.
“There's a lot of guys that do hockey and school at the same time in case hockey doesn't work out,” Raine said.
Both hockey players said they loved reading as kids — Roch Carrier's "The Hockey Sweater" was a favourite of Crisp's, while Raine was partial to Chris Val Allsburg's The Polar Express — and still enjoy reading.
Crisp and Raine said they both like reading hockey players' autobiographies and books about hockey psychology.
Jill Isard, the Grade 2 Walden Public School teacher who organized the event, said she thinks Crisp and Raine did an excellent job with their presentation.
“They promoted that yes, we are playing hockey, but school was very important for us,” she said.
Family Literacy Day is a national awareness initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually on Jan. 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.
The Sudbury Wolves visit was just one in a full day of activities Walden Public School held in honour of Family Literacy Day.
Students dressed up in their pyjamas, and parents were invited to “snuggle up and read” with their kids on the lunch hour. Teachers also read to the students later in the day.
Walden Public School principal Lesley Fisher said it's “critically important” that parents read with their kids.
“We want to ensure that parents continue to model that cuddling up with a good book is a lifelong skill and a lifelong enjoyment,” she said. “It's also just a great opportunity to have some bonding time at the end of a very busy day.”
Grade 2 student Carley Sobiera said she thought it was really cool to see the Sudbury Wolves players in person.
She also said she enjoyed the book they read, as she plays hockey herself, and often misplaces her hockey equipment, much like the character in “Where's My Hockey Sweater?”
As for reading, Sobiera said she thinks it's fun “because I get to learn a bunch of new things every time I read. It's just really cool.”
She said one of her favourite books is Dr. Seuss' “Green Eggs and Ham.” “My dad used to read it to me every night,” Sobiera said. “I just loved it.”