RIVER NORTH — Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews didn't even have to score a goal Monday before getting treated to a live version of Chelsea Dagger — performed on flutes by Chicago Public Schools students.
Toews and ex-Hawk Jamal Mayers, now the team's community liaison, were on hand to hear the song — normally played at the United Center when the team scores — while visiting Skinner North Elementary at 640 W. Scott St. The two, along with team mascot Tommy Hawk, came to congratulate the students that completed the "Toews Fitness Challenge" and participated in the G.O.A.L. (Get Out And Learn) program.
G.O.A.L. is a program that introduces hockey to kids who may not otherwise have the opportunity to try the sport, which can be expensive to play. They played in a gym and ate healthy for a month.
Toews told the students that healthy eating is a part of playing hockey at a high level.
"I think it is amazing that you've embraced the whole idea of exercising and playing sports, getting out of the house and being active," Toews said. "I know eating vegetables doesn't sound like fun, but guess what? Blackhawks players eat their vegetables. That's why they became Blackhawks players."
According to team officials, 80 Chicago Public Schools are participating in the program this year.
Toews and Mayers arrived to a packed auditorium of young Blackhawks fans. In addition to the music, to which Toews smiled and nodded along, the two fielded a range of student questions about pregame meals, exercise regimes and the nuances of hockey equipment.
Sumayya Muhammad, a 4th grader at Skinner, says she now watches hockey differently after taking part in G.O.A.L.
"Sometimes, a player will hang out off to the sides and they end up scoring a goal," Sumayya said. "I think that is pretty cool."
Henry Reiland, another 4th grader at Skinner, wore a Toews jersey and said he was awestruck when he saw the Blackhawks' captain.
"It was cool because it's not every day you get to see somebody like that," Henry said. "He's famous and Chicago likes him a lot."
Toews and Mayers will also visited a classroom that participated in the "Future Goals-Hockey Scholar Program," which is a digital education initiative created to increase student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
Ethan Netterstrom, Skinner's principal, said the assembly involving Toews and Mayers was a great reward for the students.
"We were excited to have them out because the kids have been working on the program for awhile now," Netterstrom said. "They kids were excited for the assembly. I think they like Tommy Hawk more than the players."
Netterstrom said that G.O.A.L will help his students look at sports in a different way.
"They [students] like the fact that they can get a deeper feel for the math and science behind it," Netterstrom said. "They like to go online and manipulate the numbers."
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