By Bob Wagner

RIT Women's Hockey

RIT women’s hockey players Ali Binnington (l), Morgan Scoyne (c) and Lindsay Grigg (r) with Xerox’s Bob Wagner.

(Editor’s note: In the photo above, one of the 60 Rochester city school students at “Skate for a Day” is flanked by RIT women’s hockey team co-captain Lindsay Grigg, left, and goalie Ali Binnington.)

I want to be clear that I had nothing to do with arranging Xerox’s sponsorship of the Atlantic (college) Hockey Tournament here in Rochester, N.Y. And the associated Skate-for-a-Day event that drew some 60 city school district students was someone else’s brainchild, too.

It’s just a really nice coincidence that this program touched on so many of my passions, and I had a chance to be among the many Xerox volunteers.

For this sponsorship, our events team came up with the idea of holding the Skate-for-a-Day for elementary students from the Rochester City School District, which is among Xerox’s larger local clients.  The school district liked the idea, too, because it was a good fit for its focus on health and wellness.

As for me, I’m a lifelong skater and fan of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) men’s and women’s hockey teams. This sponsorship touched all three personal passions – my hat trick.

Skating: I was all in when the call went out for on-ice volunteers to assist in the “Skate for a Day – Community Youth Health and Wellness Outreach Program.” It was co-sponsored by Xerox and Atlantic Hockey, and attracted about 60 third and fourth graders from a local school. I was as thrilled as the kids to skate in the 13,000-seat Blue Cross Arena.

The RIT women’s hockey team: Several members of the team that reached the quarterfinals of this year’s NCAA national championship tournament were also on-ice volunteers at the “Skate for a Day” event.  I was genuinely excited to meet them and impressed at how they helped many students make noticeable progress in our brief skating sessions. I copied their teaching techniques, and subsequently found the students picked up on my lessons much better.

The RIT men’s hockey team: Volunteers also attended the Atlantic Hockey tournament, and I saw hometown favorite RIT win the championship and qualify for the NCAA national tournament. (They upset the top-seeded Minnesota State before bowing out in the quarterfinals.  Another nice run for my beloved Tigers!)

Many of the children enjoyed these tournament-related activities as much as I did. The school’s coordinator for the event called it “a resounding success.” She noted that many of the students’ families, as well as teachers’ families, enjoyed the championship game. Moreover, several students now want to learn to play hockey, and the school will try to facilitate that.

But what convinced me of the initiative’s success was hearing one student at the Skate-for-a-Day session say to no one in particular: “I want to live here!”

There’s a student who enjoyed the skate even more than I did — and that felt great.

Bob Wagner is a director of global communications at Xerox and a proud Tiger. He holds an MBA in marketing from RIT.

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