By MATTHEW DAVIS | CODY ENTERPRISE
After a recent practice, Yellowstone Quake players took some time to answer the questions of a group of fifth-grade boys from Bright Futures Mentoring.
About 15 kids had a number of interesting queries for the hockey team.
“Why do you check other players?”
To get position and cut off from the puck.
“What’s your favorite NHL team?”
The Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and the Colorado Avalanche topped the responses.
Although, when the Quake started talking about a long West Coast road trip, one of the fifth-graders wondered how they’d spent the trip off the ice.
“Did you chase girls?” he asked.
“Of course,” forward Michael Pijanowski answered, and his teammates were quick to agree.
More importantly, though, the Quake players took the time to talk to the kids about sportsmanship and to show that outside a sport like hockey, the players are fairly mild-mannered.
“We have a philosophy on this team: Only worry about what you can control,” said head coach Joe Cardarelli, answering a question about when opponents play dirty. “Sometimes people aren’t going to play by the rules, but you can’t allow that to have an effect on the way you play.
“You always have to give it your best.”
When they’re not on the ice, the Quake get involved in the community, and the afternoon talk with the Bright Futures fifth-graders was just another example.
This season, the team has shown its softer side. During “Sleepy Time” at the library, the guys read their favorite children’s stories to kids.
The team also works on service projects throughout the season. In October, Quake players and a crew of other volunteers helped clean up Sleeping Giant Ski Area.
“Our guys really like getting involved,” Cardarelli said after a recent Sleepy Time.
Some of the Bright Futures students also were interested in hockey, and how the players made their way to the Quake.
“You have to be dedicated and really want it,” forward Drew Parus told the kids. “It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to your team.”
In addition, there was a discussion about getting through adversity during recess and school.
“You don’t want to let someone who isn’t playing fair get to you,” forward Zach Tuchklaper said. “When we’re on the ice, and something that we don’t like happens, we just try our best to let it go.”
Pijanowski added that winning isn’t always what’s most important.
“Don’t argue when something doesn’t go your way,” he said. “You can play rock-paper-scissors or find a different way to work it out.
And if you win, you win, but if you lose, just let it go”
This isn’t the first time, Bright Futures and the Quake have partnered to put on a sportsmanship summit for the mentees.
They’ve done it in the past as well, and for both groups, it’s a great way to bring the community together and get positive influences in the lives of some Cody kids.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Cardarelli said.