Elementary students throughout Mesa Public Schools are learning street hockey skills thanks to the Arizona Coyotes. The team provided training and equipment for physical education teachers.
The district received a Coyotes-branded equipment package worth $80,000 to launch the program, part of a partnership with the National Hockey League, National Hockey League Players’ Association and the Industry Growth Fund League. Last November, 80 district elementary PE teachers were trained on the curriculum and equipment by Matt Shott, Coyotes director of amateur hockey development.
“We provide the tools to make teaching hockey easier,” Shott said. “Teachers know their students better than we do, and it is cool to see how teachers tailor the curriculum to fit their classes.”
Mesa Public Schools is one of the first districts to participate in the Coyotes Street Hockey Program, which the team hopes to expand to 700 schools statewide.
“The curriculum impacts 56 district elementary schools, reaching students in kindergarten to sixth grade,” said Deb Pangrazi, district elementary PE specialist. “This generous program provides Mesa with the most top-notch equipment in Arizona.”
Equipment for each school includes 50 hockey sticks and balls, 50 scrimmage vests, two nets, a stick bag and Coyotes “Raise the Pack” banners. Teachers received a gift backpack including flash drives with curriculum and videos for quality lessons, and booklets with overviews of teaching points, drills and game ideas. For PE teachers and students in fourth through sixth grades, the Coyotes provided free passes to see the team in action.
Teachers launched Coyotes Street Hockey in January. Rich Peace, a veteran PE teacher at Hermosa Vista Elementary School, said hockey teaches students about collaboration and sportsmanship while having fun. Peace enjoyed the quality lessons taught in training.
“I played new games and got a fresh approach to teaching skills and drills,” Peace said. “Of course, I love the new equipment. The kids like the new balls because they move quickly and are easy to control. The hockey nets are awesome because they simulate a real hockey game feel.”