This week’s “News” focuses on just the “Scrimmage against hate” game.
Game on – Sunday, the Banners hosted the Metro Maple Leafs at our home ice at the Patterson Park ice rink. The game started at 11:00 AM sharp with Ian Thomas, tight-end for the Carolina Panthers dropping the first puck. And did I mention, Ian is a former Banners hockey players when he was little, That made it all the more meaningful. The two teams were pretty evenly matched with a tight game until the third period, but the Maple Leafs pulled ahead to a 5 to 3 victory. Tavon scored once and Daryl scored twice. To see the Banners on the ice after the game you would have been sure that we had won. They had proved to themselves that they could compete which was more than enough of a victory for them. We were able to get 19 of the kids in the game with only the inexperienced kids that just started skating this season watching from the stands and from behind the bench. This was the first chance the team got to wear their new game jerseys, even the new kids who didn’t get to play proudly wore their jerseys. The guys not only looked like a real team, they played like a team. Never once did I see the inevitable rivalries between our hood kids surface.
Best – In the chaos before the game there were 40 some Patterson Star player getting out of their gear with another 20 parents and coaches helping, 20 plus Maple Leafs players coaches and parents who brought in bags of hockey gear they donate to the Banners, and close to 40 Banners players and coaches, not to mention a TV crew. Ronnie, the rink manager asked me to remind the kids to be on their best behavior with so many people around. That is often a challenge for our kids. I was a little busy myself and never got to relay the message. I didn’t have to. The kids sensed the importance of the whole event. They weren’t on their ‘best’ behavior. They were on the next level up beyond best behavior. No yelling, no arguing, just everybody working together. It was impressive.
Color of Hockey – That’s an organization supporting hockey players and fans of color. The founder William Douglas came to the game and posted a great story about the game on his blog: https://colorofhockey.com/…/divyne-apollons-metro-maple-l…/… There are some great shots of the team and some of the action, not to mention a very good read.
Prayer and a cheer – After the lineup and hand shake between teams, both teams got together for a group photo with all of the coaches. The Banner players weren’t ready for things to end and get off the ice though. Daryl called the Maple Leafs’ players over to join the Banners at center ice. He then led everyone in a prayer (which is something he picked up from football – he has never been to church) and ended with, one, two, three, HOCKEY !!! Really meaningful moment for all the players, expressing how they all felt, we’re all one family.
Never forget – Before the game a TV crew from WMAR did interviews with three of the kids, Daryl, Ronald, and Rob then got some shots of the on ice action. Not only was it a great game, but the kids had a big crowd of spectators cheering them on. In addition to Ian from the Panthers, Jack Young, President of the City Council was there, and while he had to leave early had a hard time tearing himself away from the action. He liked what he saw. Mayor Pugh was able to stop in and made the final period as she was on her way back from Philadelphia. What a special day for our hood kids. It is a game these kids will never forget, and will be talking about as long as they live.
The Mayor – I got the chance to chat with her about some of our different team players and the life challenges they face. She was particularly impressed with the spirit of the post-game activities on the ice and the comradery and warm emotions of all of the kids. “What I saw out there was people who care about each other,” Mayor Pugh said. “You heard that at the end of the game. The young people, when they reached across to the other team, said ‘We’re family.’” As the Mayor left I escorted her to her vehicle, and she let me know how much she appreciated what we are doing for our kids.
No Racism – The Maple Leafs had brought each of our players one of the No Racism stickers they designed with the cross bar being a hockey stick. A number of our players and coaches got pictures of themselves with Divyne, the black kid from the Maple Leafs that was racially harassed in a tournament in Pennsylvania. What started out as an ugly situation at the tournament, turned into a beautiful positive one for not only Divyne, not only for all of our kids, but as a model for the whole community. There is hope.