by Brian McCormack | AHL On The Beat
The San Antonio Rampage and Manitoba Moose hit the ice on January 2 at the AT&T Center to kick off 2019, and the Moose were not the only international visitors in the building.
The Rampage and Spurs Sports & Entertainment welcomed 50 young visitors from the Chinese province Gansu to experience ice hockey up close and in person.
The young Chinese athletes, ranging in age from 8 to 12 years old, traveled to San Antonio to take part in a week of basketball instruction and sightseeing courtesy of Spurs Sports Academy. As a bonus, they were treated to ice-level seats at the Rampage game, for many their first hockey game.
“Hosting the talented and kind-spirited students from Gansu, China, was an overall fantastic experience for the students and for Spurs Sports & Entertainment,” said Joe Clark, the Vice President of Youth Sports and Fan Experience at SS&E. “The group was so interested in our San Antonio culture, including the Rampage and Spurs. Their learning during the week of basketball training and their introduction to hockey was quite impressive.”
Prior to puck drop, students had an opportunity to try their hand at a number of hockey skills, shooting pucks and even trying on goaltending equipment. Guests were part of the ceremonial puck-drop and were able to ride the Zambonis during intermission. Students also took part in a question-and-answer session with Rampage forward Stephen Perfetto, as well as youth hockey players their age from San Antonio.
The students learned the fundamentals of hockey and basketball and also offered San Antonio sports fans a taste of Chinese culture during their visit, demonstrating elements of the Chinese New Year celebration during a Spurs game.
After an enriching experience for both teachers and students, the Spurs and Rampage intend to have more visits in the future.
“We look forward to hosting another group from Gansu next year and expanding upon the overall experience,” said Clark. “Hopefully we can even get them out on the hockey rink and teach them how to skate next time!”