Grade and pre-school youngsters enjoyed the Bloomington Blaze game Wednesday morning at U.S. Cellular Coliseum. (Photo by Bryan Bloodworth/WJBC)
By Bryan Bloodworth
BLOOMINGTON - Nearly 1,000 school children received an educational experience away from the classroom Wednesday morning compliments of the Bloomington Blaze hockey team.
The Blaze held their first-ever "Educational Kids Day" at U.S. Cellular Coliseum where grade-school and pre-school students and teachers from Central Illinois schools were treated to a free game and educational material.
"We created a special brochere for them to show how sports and science tie in," said Blaze president David Holt. "It's a fun deal for kids. A lot of them haven't been to a game before so we used this as an opportunity to introduce them to the sport."
Holt said other teams he has been with in the past staged similiar events.
"We did this in Oklahoma City and Wichita that were very successful," added Holt. "We're really pleased with the response here. What's really exciting is that we've already had several schools that weren't able to participate this year ask about coming next year."
Schools from as far away as Champaign came for the game that started at 10 a.m.
"We just finished a unit of study on hockey, so this is a perfect way to end it," said teacher Kim Zahrn of Barkstall Elementary in Champaign, who accompanied 48 second and fifth-graders to the game. "The classes are book buddies at school and studied hockey together.
"None of us, including me, had ever been to a game before. "We're all having a lot of fun."
Washington Elementary in Bloomington was represented the most at the game with nearly 250 students.
The only negative was that the Blaze suffered a 4-2 loss.
Bryan Bloodworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org