by Josh Tannenbaum || AHL On The Beat Archive
The Springfield Falcons have been a fixture of the Western Massachusetts community for 20 years, continuing a presence in the American Hockey League which began in 1936. With that in mind, the Falcons organization, from its players to its front-office staffers, takes pride in giving back to the community that has supported hockey for so many years.
Prior to the 2013-14 season, the Falcons introduced the Stick to Reading program presented by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, which targets young children at schools throughout the Greater Springfield area, promoting the importance of reading at an early age. The program is intended to give children positive role models they can admire and learn from, while showing that reading is important and can be fun.
“It is such a great way for the kids to see adults, and for them famous adults, come out here and just be one-on-one with them and read,” Lisa Martin, director of Side by Side Pre-School and Child Care, said.
Falcons goaltender Mike McKenna and forward Andrew Joudrey visited Side by Side for the first installment of the Stick to Reading program in November, reading stories to the children in preparation for Thanksgiving.
“They see these guys reading and giving back, and I really do think it’s something that they’ll do,” Martin added.
David Dugan, principal at Patrick E. Bowe Elementary School in Chicopee, Mass., reiterated Martin’s sentiments.
“Having the children listen to one of the players read a book really puts the icing on the cake,” Dugan said. “They’re super-engaged, and whenever we can hook in the community, especially professional athletes in this case, to really have students get interested in literacy, it’s a home run for all of us.”
The idea to support such a program as Stick to Reading was a natural fit for both the Falcons and Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.
The Falcons created its new community programs prior to the 2013-14 season in an effort to support children of Greater Springfield in literacy, health and exercise, and character building. The team promotes family entertainment at its home games and is strongly invested in the future of Western Massachusetts.
“We love to see children and families having fun at our games,” Falcons president Sarah Pompea said. “Stick to Reading was created to represent that idea: to have our players, our mascot and our staff members donate their time to supporting the families and children that live in our community.”
Columbia Gas of Massachusetts shares the same values.
“Columbia Gas of Massachusetts is thrilled to continue to support the Falcons by partnering in the Stick to Reading program,” Andrea Luppi, the company’s manager of communications and community relations, said. “This innovative program aligns itself with our commitment to provide educational opportunities to hundreds of children throughout the Greater Springfield community.”
For more information on Stick to Reading or any of the other Springfield Falcons community programs, please visit www.falconsahl.com.