Capitals host clinic for middle school students

Hockey fans are looking to put this week on fast forward so they can cheer on the Caps during the season opener Saturday. The game is back now that the NHL lockout is over and Monday, the team’s following multiplied.

The Washington Capitals scored a lot of new fans Monday. Over 200 middle school students got to scrimmage with the pros.

The students at the Capital City Public Charter School in Northwest took a break from the books for a crash course in hockey. They got lessons on puck handling, passing and shooting.

Former Caps star Errol Rausse led the way. He was drafted in 1979.

“It’s cool to have former Capitals here,” says Ethan Wendel, a sixth grader. “It’s cool having people coming, like famous people.”

“It seems like a good sport to play and I really want to try it out now,” says Gee Martinez, also a sixth grader.

The Caps have hosted more than 70 of these clinics since 2007, reaching more than 10,000 students and peaking the interests of those like fifth grader Kassandra Tchemi.

“It looks kind of like a hard game, but when they actually break it down to you, it kind of makes it easier,” she says.

“When you get a chance to give back to the kids and get a chance to interact with them, that’s the funnest part of the whole sport,” says Rausse.

Even the Caps’ mascot Slapshot got in on the action, pumping up the excitement for the love of the game.

“There’s no bigger team-building sort of thing than a sport and if they learn a little bit about how to really interact with everyone else around them, they’ll be better adults,” says Rausse. “I think they’ll be better in business, better at work, better at life.”

The students won more than just a free lesson. Their school also received a full team set of street hockey equipment. The Capitals donate one to every school they host a clinic at.