Hockey KidCat nights at the George

It’s no secret – one of my greatest passions is being a part of a solid team that daily leads our amazing Jenison district. But the enjoyment doesn’t stop there… the final bell rings and our students move on to find their passion and pursue excellence in other areas. There is no shortage of opportunities to watch our students shine! It might be said that my favorite Jenison event to attend is, wherever I happen to be that day. And yesterday, as Michigan’s winter weather reappeared, it seemed appropriate, that I spent the evening at Griff’s Georgetown, attending the Hockey Kids Night game. It was a great time for students and their families, with a lot of fun activities planned. It also gave me a chance to get on the ice and compete in the frozen turkey toss game! 

This is the 22nd season for Wildcat Hockey; about 10 years ago, the team developed into a Co-Op combining players from Jenison, Zeeland West and Zeeland East, and they are putting together a highly successful season. Shortly before Christmas, they skated away as champions of the Holiday Classic Tournament. Last night, was particularly exciting as they fought hard for a big victory in the final seconds of the game.

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2018-2019 Team Photo by Larry Treece

Mirroring the Jenison Varsity Football Kid Cat program, our Hockey players were partnered with elementary classrooms and have spent time reading with our younger  students. The team has also hosted multiple “Kids Nights at the George” giving families a fantastic opportunity to enjoy an affordable night out and see some awesome Wildcat action on the ice.

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Jenison Varsity Hockey Players Noah Sheldon & Jack Williams visiting and reading with the students in Jenny Dudick’s ECC classroom.

They are about 2/3 of the way through their season and if you haven’t made it to a game yet this year, don’t worry! Hockey players will be back in classrooms on Friday, January 25 and will host their final Kids Night that evening. Elementary students are free, concessions are tasty and more great activities are planned!

It gives me great joy to see our community of families and teachers take pride in and rally around all of our student performers (sports, fine arts, clubs, et al). Mark your calendars and keep scrolling to check out photos, media coverage of the team and the remainder of their schedule. Don’t miss the chance to support this awesome group of guys!

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Never know who might be at a game! Spiderman was an excellent cheerleader and got the crowd pumped with a tee shirt toss!

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November 29, 2018Jenison excited about start of hockey season, possessing depth at all positions

October 2, 2018: Capitals, Make-A-Wish give teen once-in-a-lifetime experience

September 7, 2018Jenison’s Cade Elliott stops pucks, soccer, and lacrosse balls without letting diabetes stop him

Click HERE for the complete Jenison Varsity Hockey Schedule.

KidCAT Players Inspire

On the surface, it may seem like another celebration for the football team but look closer and you’ll see an initiative bringing a community together and modeling some pretty amazing attributes.

The KidCAT program started about 10 years ago when a teacher had the idea to foster a connection between the elementary students and the high school, with community events such as football games. It’s not always natural – especially for families who don’t know any players personally; however it has grown to be something that the varsity players and the elementary students look forward to each year.

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Sully Russ is one of 20 seniors on the team this year. He enjoyed sharing a visit with his Bauerwood friends. Go #24!

Early in the football season, classroom teachers adopt a player; sometimes a teacher is able to choose a player that once sat in their elementary rooms. The teachers and players alike, really appreciate having the opportunity to reconnect. This year, all 43 Varsity players were paired up with an excited classroom of little Wildcats ready to keep this tradition going. Teachers guide the young students in thoughtful exercises as they get to know their KidCAT player, then share notes, cards of encouragement, and small treats throughout the season.

And the Varsity guys get to give back as well. They are able to be a positive role model; sharing their character and work ethic in return. On the big day of the KidCAT football game, all the players go visit their elementary friends and spend some time with them. When the players arrive, the kids are star struck and in awe like a celebrity has entered their little world! It’s awesome to see the guys having a good time with some silly questions and leading the way for future generations as they promote literacy, community and kindness. As October is Anti-Bullying Month, we are proud to watch as the football team has also joined the Stomp Out Bullying, anti-bullying campaign this year. I’m proud of the leaders we have in this team.

The grand finale is when the students and their families rally to cheer on their KidCAT player at the Varsity football game. At game time, students are grouped in sections with their schools and it’s so fun to see our young fans totally engaged in the game while they cheer for their Wildcat. 

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Senior, Kyle Nott leads the pack through the student tunnel at the KidCAT game, October 12. Photo Courtesy of Damion Van Slyke Photography