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GCU Ice Hockey: Off the Ice, Into the Community

October 17, 2018

Becoming better players off the ice through acts of service

By: Taylor Browne/GCU Staff

The entire warehouse fills with enthusiasm.  Cheering all around as another food box is completed.

Helping hands and teamwork brought the Grand Canyon University Women’s Ice Hockey and Men’s Ice Hockey programs together on a bye week. It is the program’s second year giving back to Feed My Starving Children.

At Feed My Starving Children in Mesa last Thursday, the Lopes provided over 75 volunteers to put together nutritious meals that would feed over 100 malnourished children for an entire year.

“We got into teams and got to our tables.  There is music going on, and everyone is excited,” GCU Women’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Natalie Rossi said. “It’s a great team building experience.”

Hard work on and off the ice doesn’t go left unnoticed. Last year, Rossi and her team were recognized with the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s (ACHA) Women’s Division I Community Service Award for their hard work and volunteer hours in the community.

“We are making the world a better place and continuing some of GCU’s values through the hockey team,” said Rossi. “Last year at the beginning of the season, it was very coach-led. This year, a handful of players have come up to me and said, ‘Hey, Coach, I want to participate in this community service event.  Is it okay if I set it up?’ It’s really nice to have them be the ones who are leading it.”

For the Lopes, it’s not about the awards or the recognition, but the stories they take away.

“After you fill out a box of food, you shout out something funny or exciting to let everyone know that you filled completed a box,” said sophomore defender Tuesday Chavez. “It is such a good cause that you know you are doing something really meaningful for the world. There are children around the world that are in need for us to help them.”

“As a team, it’s good to give back to the community, and we gained knowledge of how other people are living around the world,” GCU Men’s Ice Hockey goalie Michael Barabash said. “We got to give just an hour or so of our time to make a difference, and had fun while doing it.”

With humble hearts and serving alongside men’s ice hockey, all three teams were all smiles.

“Getting the players together at any point in time off the ice always helps build team spirit, team communication, and that bond that you need to have as a team,” said Rossi. “It’s really helped our culture of hard work-on and off the ice-in becoming better people and hockey players at all points in our lives.”

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