OXFORD, MI – These days, the Oxford High School varsity hockey team is not only winning on the ice, but winning in a significant way off the ice as well.
After all, the feeling of beating the opposition only lasts until the next game, while making strides in the community can last a lifetime.
This season, Wildcat players have put in time at Oxford Elementary School reading to children, at the Waterstone Senior Village to interact with the residents and just this week, welcomed Oxford special education students to practice at the Troy Sports Center (pictured above) as part of a “learn to skate” event where the students also rode the team bus to and from practice.
“I think it’s very important for athletes to be role models because a lot of people are watching and looking up to them, so setting a good example is an important key to being a great athlete,” said Oxford junior forward Stephan Fritz.
“The kids who look up to us see us doing good things tend to aspire to also do good things,” added junior forward Jimmy Wallington. “We try to have a positive attitude on everything and just show how fun it is to be representing our school on the ice.”
Sophomore forward Luke Novack said going to the elementary school was fun and rewarding.
“It was cool because when we walked into the classroom, all the kids went crazy,” said Novack. “It was a lot of fun to play math games with them, even though I lost every time. Going to the school was a great experience and if asked, I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Spending time with senior citizens over the holidays had the same type of goodwill feeling.
“It was a great time going to the senior home with the boys,” Fritz said. “It's always nice to get out into the community and know you're making a difference in some people’s lives that don't always get to experience something like that. You can tell they enjoy the company and its just fun to spend some time with the residents and hear their stories.”
This past Monday, the special education kids got to experience firsthand what it takes to not only be a hockey player, but all the preparation it takes just to skate at practice.
“It was a really great experience, I really enjoyed it and I think everyone involved did, too,” said OHS junior defenseman Brennen Orr. “I felt really good about myself helping them learn how to skate.”
“I had a great time teaching those kids how to skate,” sophomore forward Cody Wright said. “It was a big deal for them and we will never know how much that impacted their lives. I was just glad to do it.”
After beating Lapeer United 4-2 last night at home during Senior Night, the Wildcats (13-6-2 overall, 2-4-1 OAA Red) are now looking ahead to the Red Division playoffs that start Friday night against Farmington at 8:45 p.m. at the Onyx in Rochester.
Obviously, the team has its goals set extremely high.
“We have a shot to win the league after moving up a second year in a row and that's really exciting to the team, especially since many people don't believe we will be able to pull it off again,” said Fritz. “We just have to take it one step at a time and work harder than ever. Playoffs this year are looking good and we have a strong, deep team that's looking to go far.
“With the work we've put in, it's not unrealistic that we'll be at states when that whole thing gets started.”
“The Red playoffs are very important to our team, especially the seniors,” Novack said. “A lot of teams in the league think that we won’t even be a .contender, which makes us want to win it that much more. We are ready to compete and bring back some hardware for the school.”
Other first-round matchups have Clarkston taking on Stoney Creek, Farmington Hills Unified battling Rochester United and Lake Orion tangling with Birmingham Unified.
The Red Division semi-finals go Saturday at the Farmington Hills Ice Arena with championship games taking place on Feb. 25 at the Birmingham Ice Arena.
Click here to view the playoff bracket for the Red Division.
For more information on the Oxford High School varsity hockey team, please visit www.OxfordHockey.com.