By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Ice hockey may be expanding in the South, but in Mississippi, the sport still has a lot of room to grow.
A group of college athletes from Mississippi State University did their part on Tuesday to aid that effort.
The university’s club-level hockey team held a demonstration for the seventh- and eighth-graders, who soon will begin a unit on floor hockey.
“We love meeting the kids and talking to them, not only about hockey but about sportsmanship and teamwork,” said MSU coach Tim Barclay, noting the team also visited Mooreville Elementary in December. “I think hockey players in general want to get the word out about the sport. The more people who know about hockey, the better it is for hockey.”
Tupelo Middle physical education teacher Melissa Scott said it is important for the students to be exposed to a different sport.
“When we start floor hockey, everyone is on the same level because they’ve never played before,” she said.
She called the Ice Dawgs, who also practice in Tupelo, and asked if they would visit her class.
“I enjoy informing them about hockey,” said MSU player Kyle Grider, 22, a junior from Franklin, Tenn. “Not a lot of people around here know what hockey is.”
The players answered questions from the students and also played a game with several of them on the gym’s floor.
“It was tiring to run around,” said eighth-grade student LaDevin Allen, 14. “It is challenging because you have to hit a puck and get it into a small goal with someone defending it.”