By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
Out of the rink and into the community, the Grand Canyon University men’s and women’s ice hockey program provided a different kind of assist.
The teamwork commenced at the opening announcement of “Go!” and continued through the final ending countdown; helping to create over 50,000 meals for malnourished kids across the globe.
At Feed My Starving Children in Mesa, Ariz., the Lopes volunteered with 100 others to put together nutritious meals that would go to feed nearly 150 children for a full year.
“I love being able to help feed children,” GCU women’s ice hockey coach Natalie Rossi said. “Everything that they do goes to such a great cause and it’s very exciting to see the teams giving back in that way.”
Giving back, but also having fun. All while serving underneath a music playlist that resembled the top hits from the 80s, 90s and today, many laughed and many sang along while still learning the value of communication and support.
“If they’re not having a good time, if they’re having a negative experience, then they’re not going to come back,” said organization team leader Kristi Koerner. “The work is so important, and we want them to understand that, but we also want them to understand the importance of them having a great time.”
The energy in the room was evident, but this was also an opportunity to bond as a team and put together traits that can be used on the ice.
“It was a blast,” GCU women’s ice hockey freshman forward Courtney Morgan said. “It made me feel good that we could all bond together while making a difference in other people’s lives.”
The organization itself has shipped to nearly 90 countries. While the teams may not see the delivery of the boxes first-hand, being able to help in whatever way they can has allowed the players to gain some perspective.
“I think it definitely humbles you after you see what’s going on here, and it makes you more of a leader too,” Morgan said. “Encouraging people to help come volunteer makes you have better characteristics.”
In any team environment, communication and teamwork is needed in a variety of different aspects. On the ice, a good pass leads to a good goal. Saturday, wearing the same letters they’ll wear on game day, the Lopes delivered an assist in the form of hope for children that need it most.
“I love to see in their university time how their service in the community can really make a difference around the world,” said Koerner.