It’s a subject a lot of people would have loved to take in high school – hockey.
Now, students at LCCVI are getting the chance.
Since September, Chris Edgar has been teaching hockey to his Grade 10 physical education class. “The Grade 10 curriculum allows you to focus on a specific sport. We just picked hockey,” he says.
Edgar got the idea from a close friend at Lambton Kent Composite School in Dresden who has taught hockey to his class. Edgar “put a bug” in the principal’s ear hoping, because the high school is right down the street and the curriculum was already laid out, that he could do the same. Linda Jared agreed and when the students learned the course was being offered, they signed up quickly.
And it wasn’t just young men who have spent their whole life in the hockey system. “It turned out we have a huge mix of kids,” says Edgar. “We had two AAA players, a whole bunch of midget players – boys and girls. And we had one total non-skater who had never had the opportunity to play hockey before.”
The program was designed not to play to win but to play to build hockey skills. That way, Edgar says, the non-skater and the seasoned veteran will both improve and both have the opportunity to get a good mark.
“We focused mainly on individual skills. We had some team games. It worked well,” he says. “We based marks on terms of improvement and every kid showed marked improvement on the skills we were working on – even the kids that were in AAA.
“The purpose of this course is not to develop a team, it’s more you are against yourself and everything is marked or graded against your own abilities,” he added. That led to the teens “trying to encourage each other to do better.”
Edgar saw that during the scrimmages they held “There were a lot of smiles and laughs and inclusion of everyone.” Edgar noted the seasoned players held back a bit so the beginners could keep up. “It is neat having that group together, seeing how the players advanced and brought the other players with them.”
It wasn’t all easy. Students can’t bring their equipment on the bus, so parents had to commit to getting it to the arena. But Edgar says they worked around that too, with some help.
Petrolia Minor Hockey and the Town of Petrolia allowed the students to leave their equipment at the rink during the day so parents could pick it up at the end of the day.
And the town worked with the school and adapted their ice schedule when necessary.
Edgar says even with some of the inconveniences, it has been worth it and the program will run again next year.
For the teacher – who has been an avid hockey player all his life, it has been a great experience. “To be able to come to school in the morning and go put my skates on and skate around the ice… it’s a really neat opportunity… when you’re growing up and want to be a teacher, you don’t always expect to do the things you love.”
And Edgar hopes he gave his students something they’ll carry with them a long time. “Hopefully my enthusiasm rubs off on the kids… that they know it is not about going to the NHL, or making a lot of money; it’s about being able to still play at my age… and all the opportunities you have from hockey … I wanted to pass some of that along.”