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Marlies go back to school for good cause

by John Bartlett

No matter how old you get, you’re never too old to go back to school.

That’s the case for the Toronto Marlies, only they come back with an important message for the youngsters.

The Marlies have teamed up with the Canadian Safe Schools network to visit schools in the Toronto area and bring an anti-bullying message to students.

In the final home game of the pre-season at Ricoh Coliseum, the Marlies played a noon game and hosted over 2,500 elementary school students for the contest against the Rochester Americans. During the game, students were greeted by messages from the Marlies players on the video board to support the anti-bullying campaign.

Players like Marlies defenseman Brendan Bell, who was just named the team’s community player of the month, joins fellow players to schools to take part in a show that is designed to entertain and inform.

School visits give students a chance to prepare questions ahead of time for the players, which deal with everything from their favorite foods, TV shows, pre-game routines, music and much more. They also offer the opportunity to ask serious questions about bullying, everything from how to deal with bullying at school and what to do when you come across bullying.

One interesting aspect comes from players who grew up in Europe, and yet can tell stories of bullying that happened back home to show that it’s an issue students of today can’t escape and must deal with head on.

The visits are an interactive experience that also features some fun with a game show that helps enforce the anti-bullying message. While students are competing in a quiz show, they are renewing their commitment to prevent bullying in schools.

It’s also amazing the little tidbits of information you can learn about Marlies players during these interactive visits. Everything from different experiences in schools across the country and around the world, to how many times a day players walk their dogs, pre-game routines, and which player enjoys cooking so much, that after taking cooking classes in high school, he wants to open his own restaurant some day. Amazing stuff indeed, but no names mentioned. That’s for the students who asked the questions to know and you to find out.

The visits provide a great way to allow kids to know the players on a personal level, and deliver an important message, one that the schools appreciate as sometimes kids are more likely to listen to a hockey player over their teacher.

It also gives the players a chance to take a quick mental break from the intense day in and day out routine for this critical time of year. Balance is so important.

The Marlies plan on making their Canadian Safe Schools pre-season game for students and annual event and look to expand to more schools next year and continue to support their campaign to stop bullying in schools.