By Ryan J. Harr
For the fifth consecutive year, a number of the Rochester Americans players traded in skates for sneakers as they took on a team of student-athletes in the annual floor hockey game at Holy Childhood.
“It is really great to have the Amerks players to come out and play a friendly game,” said Terry Brown, a player on the Holy Childhood team. “It’s also neat to have the Amerks take the time out of their day and schedules as well.”
The student-athletes at Holy Childhood have the opportunity to sign-up in various clubs and organizations throughout the school year, one of which is the school-run hockey league.
For six to eight weeks, students are taught the game of hockey by watching the sport and through hands-on instruction from Tim Baird, Physical Education Director and Manager of Recreational Services.
“This event is fantastic,” said Baird. “The training I do with the students leads and builds up the students’ excitement as they take on Amerks players. When our students play the game against the Amerks, they are able to understand the sport and it brings joy and also brings out the passion the students have about hockey.”
The students received clinics and have played some games against several other organizations over the period that helps the students continue to learn the sport.
“We have had members of St. John Fisher College hockey team come in and do some drills with the students. The local fire department comes in around Christmas with some members of the firefighters to play our kids prior to our annual Christmas Party,” said Baird.
Evan Rodrigues, usually a high-scoring winger by trade, volunteered to play goaltender for the Amerks. He was tested early and often by an aggressive Holy Childhood team, but more importantly, he enjoyed the afternoon with the students.
“Just to see the joy in the kids’ faces is really special,” said Rodrigues after his team suffered a 7-6 overtime loss. “They were pretty competitive today. At the end of the way, when you can sign some autographs, and see how much fun these kids had, it brings a smile to your face. It was a lot of fun playing them. This is the kind of thing that as players we love to do and want to do more often.”
For more than 70 years, Holy Childhood, a non-denominational, is a non-profit agency, that has enriched the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Dedicated to serving students and adults in an atmosphere of dignity and compassion, the school’s mission is to prepare children and adults with developmental disabilities for maximum independence and integration in the community through individualized programs and services, in keeping with the philosophy and vision of the school’s founders.
Joining Rodrigues on the day was Brady Austin, Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste, Dan Catenacci and Cole Schneider.