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Roller hockey is style with a heart

Heart of Lincoln
By: Eileen Marks
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I am always on the look out for new subjects to write about and this time, I once again hit the jack pot! My sources come in all different sizes and shapes and, this time, the source was in the form of a pet sitter. Dale McCoy is one of my pet sitters and he is a member of a very special roller hockey program that takes place right here in Lincoln. Dale directed me to Mary Boyle, assistant superintendent of education services for our own Western Placer Unified School District. Mary, who has worn many hats throughout her long tenure with the district, was principal of Glen Edwards Middle School when the program began. This program occupies a large part of her heart. The program was started almost 10 years ago by Paul Cruickshank, a beloved resource specialist program teacher, at Glen Edwards. In an e-mail, Mary wrote, “Paul was quite a skater and an avid hockey player who encouraged his students to develop confidence, responsibility, integrity and enthusiasm through the program.” She said that “Paul passed away a few years ago but his legacy lives on through this program.” Through his efforts, Paul procured donations and the program began to grow. What started as a rink lined with PVC pipes held together with S hooks has turned into a movable rink lined with concrete barriers. Makeshift uniforms have been replaced by professional-grade jerseys. The roller hockey games are played from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays from October to April. The first 12 weeks of the season is played at Glen Edwards Middle School and the second 12 weeks at Twelve Bridges Middle School. The program is open to any level player and nurtures non-skaters as they develop their skills. The students can start as a “3” and work their way up to a “1.” The intent of its founder was to provide a positive after-school activity as an outreach to all students. Paul’s goal was to get those students involved who would not usually get involved. Presently, the program, led by Mike Agrippino (Glen Edwards Middle School), Ben Volmer (Twelve Bridges Middle School) and David Luci is open to all middle-school students who meet the qualifications for after-school programs. These dedicated teachers and community members have done a wonderful job in continuing the program. Throughout the 24 weeks of the season, students and staff play roller hockey. Originally, the staff members were all faculty of Glen Edwards Middle School but now include staff from Twelve Bridges Middle School, Lincoln High School and the district office as well as community members. Sometimes, the students are joined by their principals, Michael Doherty from Glen Edwards and Stacey Brown from Twelve Bridges middle schools. These adults are also assisted by alumni of the program and on the day that I watched the teams, Lincoln High School students Josh Whaleitner and Kurtis Lawler participated as a referee and a goalie. As with any volunteer program, they are in need of sponsors from the community. Having received a grant from the city, they expanded the program to two leagues. The good news is that the program continues to grow and that means more money is needed to continue with the expansion. When the game moves from Glen Edwards Middle School to Twelve Bridges Middle School, the concrete rink has to be transported. The organization wants to build a permanent rink at each school site and donations are needed to make this happen. If you would like to help, contact the leaders at their school sites or e-mail me (emarks@aol.com) and I will forward your e-mails to them. I’mquoting Mary Boyle a lot because her response about the program was full of facts and heart and I couldn’t say it any better. Perhaps that is because she was there, when it began more than eight years ago. She watched as Paul transformed a dream of a sports program that allowed all students equal access, no matter what their circumstances were, into a reality. Paul is greatly missed and at the same time greatly remembered each and every time the kids and the staff join together to play roller hockey. Although I had to leave before Mary arrived, she skates with the kids as often as her schedule permits. In her e-mail, Mary said, “We put all of our professional status aside, and for two hours every Thursday, the students and the staff are athletes together! It is a remarkable program.” The sentiments in her e-mail were reiterated by every adult involved with the roller hockey program. I plan on returning today to Glen Edwards Middle School to watch the game in action. Stop by and you will see a remarkable program, led by members of our community, who make a difference in the lives of our children. It doesn’t get any better than that! Eileen Marks can be reached at emarks@aol.com. To read more of her writing, check out her Web site at chinmom.squarespace.com.