Her name is Jade. She showed up at Colson Elementary School this morning wearing a Tampa Bay Lightning t-shirt, and she will leave clutching a golden hockey stick.
Jade is the 100,000th student to receive a hockey stick from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s “Equip the Thunder” program.
Over the past 4 years, The Bolts’ community hockey department has visited schools across the Tampa Bay area – getting kids pumped about hockey, donating equipment to schools, and supplying students with the gear to play at home.
It’s an important partnership because it gets kids excited about the game and it also gets them outside and active.
During today’s visit, the students ran through a few drills and then got to play a game against each other. It was intense! The kids kept their blades on the ground and their focus on the ball. After every goal, the student who scored ran down their sideline slapping high fives!
After that, they lined up to receive a hockey stick and a ball – as a gift from the Tampa Bay Lightning. But nestled among the blue and white sticks was one that shimmered gold.
This one was special… It was the 100,000th stick given out by the Bolts.
A 2nd grader named Jade patiently waited her turn to claim her stick… As she reached the front of the line a golden stick was placed in her outstretched hand.
She gasped as confetti flew into the air and everyone started cheering!
Her friends gathered around her to get a peak of the prize! Jade shyly let everyone have a look while she shook the hands of Former Lightning GM, Jay Feaster, and the team’s 2004 Captain Dave Andreychuk.
“I’m a big fan of the Lightning,” Jade said as all her friends gathered around. “I watch almost all the games with my grandma cause she’s a big fan too!”
Andreychuk couldn’t be more supportive of this program, “It gives the kids another avenue. We want them to be introduced to the game. A lot of these kids have never put a stick in their hands before”.
Now, each one of them will be going home with their own stick and ball AND a ticket to see a future Tampa Bay Lightning game.
As for Jade, she’s also going home with a souvenir. Something to hold onto as she and her grandma gather around the television, cheering on those Bolts!