Members of the U.S. Women’s National Team had the opportunity last Friday to help with Hurricane Irma relief in Tampa, Florida, delivering meals and helping kids at the Freddie Solomon Boys & Girls Club.
“It was an awesome experience,” said forward Amanda Pelkey. “I hope that we had a big impact on their lives for the short amount of time that we were there because they definitely impacted our lives, greatly.”
Pelkey played in two International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships, winning gold both times. She also won a pair of gold medals and a silver as a member of the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team.
Pelkey, the first player to sign with the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League, said the team spent time with an estimated 50 kids for several hours.
“We talked with the kids for a little bit, and they asked some great questions,” Pelkey said. “We got to know them a little bit.”
After that, team members and kids played street hockey outside with nets, sticks and padded boards provided by the Tampa Bay Lightning before the players served dinner. Then, the players split into groups where one had a dance party and the other played more street hockey.
“I think every single one of us enjoyed ourselves,” Pelkey said. “Individually, we each had a moment where we got to sit down and chat with a kid, asking what sports they liked and what things they like doing out of school. There were definitely some kids that had tears when we left. It shows how much we impacted them, even just being there for the short amount of time because they didn’t want us to leave.”
Pelkey will always remember the smile on the kids’ faces as soon as the players walked through the door.
“At the time, they probably didn’t even know who we were,” Pelkey said. “But just to see us all walk in the door, these kids’ faces just brightened up the second we walked in.”
A group of 23 players and the core of the national team staff officially gathered at Florida Hospital Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Florida — part of the Tampa Bay metro area — earlier this month to begin training for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games.
The hurricane temporarily altered their plans, but following the storm, the players were excited to get out and give back to the community.
“I think the team we have is absolutely impactful far beyond hockey,” Pelkey said. “I think we’re all great role models in the sense that if you take away hockey, we really take pride on how we carry ourselves throughout the community.”
Members of the Freddie Solomon Boys & Girls Club learned first-hand recently.
“The Boys & Girls Club made a huge impact with our team,” Pelkey said. “Seeing those kids smile made our night. We were extremely grateful to be able to out there and help.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.