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Orchard Lake

Red Wings Foundation focuses on education and dedication

November 27, 2013

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Students at Our Lady of Refuge in Orchard Lake raise their hands to answer trivia questions about the Detroit Red Wings.
Zach Konnie, Red Wings event marketing coordinator, and Tiffany Kress, marketing assistant, play a game about healthy foods.

ORCHARD LAKE — Sporting Detroit Red Wings jerseys, the students of Our Lady of Refuge in Orchard Lake filled the school gym for a healthy lifestyle assembly with the Red Wings Foundation, Nov. 22.

A mass email from the foundation was sent out to schools, offering the foundation’s presentation, said Deborah Wells, athletic director for Our Lady of Refuge. In the past, the school has welcomed the Detroit Pistons to discuss healthy foods and exercise, and this year, Wells said, she decided to team up with the Red Wings Foundation to provide an educational and fun assembly for the students, who range from preschool to eighth grade.

“The Detroit Red Wings Foundation, Kroger Co. of Michigan and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan wanted us to come out here and talk to you guys about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle by eating the right foods and getting a lot of exercise,” said “coach” Zach Konnie, event marketing coordinator for the Red Wings, at the assembly.

Engaging the students in competition and good sportsmanship, Konnie and marketing assistants  “coach” Tiffany Kress and “coach” Sara Turnbull quizzed the students on various Red Wings trivia, awarding pencil cases filled with school supplies to those who answered correctly.

Prior to the assembly, Konnie said, he questioned the hockey players about important subjects to discuss with the students. The responses he received were “education” and “dedication.”

“You students here at Refuge are not all that different than the Detroit Red Wings when it comes to getting an education,” Turnbull said, explaining that the Red Wings learn from their “teacher,” coach Mike Babcock, and take 82 tests, or games, throughout the season. While the students of Refuge study to achieve an A on assignments, the players practice to earn a W, or “win,” in each game, she added.

With players from all over the world, the Red Wings are a global team, and the players learn from each other, the “coaches” explained to the students. Though each player speaks differently and looks different, Konnie said, the Red Wings never bully or tease each other. Instead, they learn from each other, just as the Refuge students should.

After a variety of competitive activities between selected students, the “coaches” discussed the importance of dedication and goals.

“One of the goals they (Red Wings) set for themselves is to be professional hockey players,” said Kress. Kress said the players achieved their goals by eating healthy and getting exercise. Eating healthy, they explained, includes knowing the proper daily food portions, like five servings of dairy or eating whole grain or whole wheat grains. As for exercise, the students made a promise to the players to get at least one hour of exercise daily.

“We’re going to go back to the Joe (Louis Arena) today and tell them that Refuge is ready to get some exercise,” Konnie shouted.

In addition to the assembly, the Red Wings Foundation donated a banner and field hockey equipment to Our Lady of Refuge, including hockey sticks, two goalie nets, helmets and padding. Wells said the school will use the equipment for gym classes and intramural programs for the younger kids after school. Each student also received a Red Wings folder filled with a Kroger cookbook, a form to be a part of the Red Wings Kids Club, an invitation to hockey camps and a Detroit Red Wings growth poster.

“I will take away what they did at the assembly for our pep rallies,” Wells said. “That was great competition. What the Red Wings did was so generous.”

Our Lady of Refuge students are selling tickets to the Dec. 15 hockey game, and for every ticket sold, $5 will be returned to the school for the parent club to use at their discretion, said Wells.

“The statement that was given to me as they (event coordinators) were leaving was that they were really impressed at the behavior of our kids. That made us feel really good,” Wells said. “We would definitely consider having them out again.”

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