Hours after the New York Islanders wrapped up a 5-2 defeat of the Tampa Bay Lightening, three members of the team visited West End Elementary School in Lynbrook to teach students lessons about hard work, team work and healthy eating.
Goaltenders Chad Johnson and Jaroslav Halak joined forward Anders Lee at the school on Nov. 19. “Even though we get to make our living playing hockey, we always make sure we’re working as hard as we can,” Johnson told the kids. “And that was true of school too, all of us knew how important getting a good education was.”
Lee, a Notre Dame University graduate, said his pursuit of collegiate hockey came not from a desire for fame and fortune, but from a desire to further his education.
“For me, hockey was my tool to go to a great school like the University of Notre Dame,” Lee said. “I wasn’t sure if I would be good enough to play professionally so I used hockey to get the best education I could and make sure I was prepared for wherever life took me.”
Lee also said that he empathizes with students who struggle with academics. “I was certainly never the best student, I don’t think school ever came that easily to me,” Lee told the elementary school students. “But I always knew how important it was and I used things I learned on the ice to help me in school.”
Halak, a native of Slovakia, told students that school can teach important lessons that will help them throughout their lives, including their time on the athletic fields.
“One of the best things you can learn here is how to work with some of your peers,” Halak said. “School can really help you learn how to communicate and work with each other, and that can help you be a better teammate.”
Halak also told students about the importance of reaching out to students that may be struggling.
“It’s never fun to be the one who is behind or the one who is left out,” Halak said. “I think we all know at some point how that feels, and how important it is to help out a person that needs you.”