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Hockey scholar program “Builds the Thunder” one school at a time

February 19, 2016 - Partners in Education

Tampa Bay Lightning owner, Jeff Vinik brought the love of hockey to Ferrell Girls Preparatory with the help of Olympic Silver Medalist Anne Schleper and 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Jassen Cullimore as they led street hockey clinics. All 489 girls at the academy received a hockey stick, puck, and a Lightening BOGO ticket voucher to celebrate the day.

As Superintendent Jeff Eakins helped introduced the Build the Thunder and Equip the Thunder programs, Vinik shared his future goals of the hockey program with the students at Ferrell Girls Preparatory Academy.

However, Vinik’s Future Goals are beyond just giving out pucks and hockey sticks but to help further their educational learning.  Hoping that students will bring their excitement about hockey into the classroom, Vinik has helped develop a STEM-based hockey digital learning initiative known as the Hockey Scholar Program. The program brings science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts to life using the exciting fast-paced game of hockey using an online tool called EVERFI.

"I am so proud to be able to share my love of hockey with the youth of the Tampa Bay region as we introduce an extensive program that will grow new hockey fans while also giving us the opportunity to feature Lightning players and alumni as role models and 'teachers' for our children," said Vinik .

To learn more about EVERFI and Future Goals visit

More About Build the Thunder Initiative

In partnership with the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association, Tampa Bay Lightning plans to invest more than $6 million over the next five years. The goal of the program is to teach more than 100,000 young people in the community, including HCPS students, to grow the game of hockey and teach life skills lessons. Lightning organization has already provided street hockey clinics for 54 middle schools serving over 1200 HCPS students. 

  • Equip the Thunder -- distributing 100,000 street hockey sticks and balls to third through fifth graders through an extensive school outreach program
  • Train the Thunder -- offering 10,000 hours of progressive training opportunities for players and coaches
  • Develop the Thunder -- increasing the number of youth players (7-13 year olds) registered with USA Hockey in the Tampa Bay area by 1,000
  • Guide the Thunder -- utilizing Lightning players, coaches and alumni as life skills mentors to identify and work with 100 at-risk youth from diverse backgrounds
  • Create the Thunder -- establishing 10 junior varsity hockey programs for aspiring high school hockey players




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