To Dave Bolland, it was a trip to tiny town.
Thursday, Bolland was back at his old elementary school, St. Leo’s in Etobicoke, to kick off the season’s first Shape Up assembly.
Several times a year, MLSE athletes, athletic trainers and clinicians offer an hour-long program encouraging Toronto and GTA schoolchildren to get active and stay that way. Raptors alumni Jamaal Magloire and Greg McKegg, representing the Marlies, also pitched in.
Bolland has revisited the school in the past but the two-time Stanley Cup winner still revels in how big everything seemed when he passed through the school.
“I have so many memories of playing floor hockey in this gym,” he said. “In the schoolyard we played foot hockey, that’s what we called it, kicking a tennis ball around. “
The 27-year-old Bolland, acquired from the Blackhawks in exchange for three draft picks, is entering his seventh year as an NHLer. No matter where you roam, he said, you never fully leave your elementary school behind.
“School to me was always fun but when it was gym time I was always pumped up,” he said.
“I never thought about it at the time but being active and staying active were such an important part of my life. I think a lot of kids sit at home playing video games instead of being active out of doors. When I was a kid growing up around here we were always doing something outside, ball hockey or lacrosse and we’d play until we’d drop. I’m not sure there’s that same level of activity for most kids today.”
“There’s just too many other things, online and elsewhere, available to kids that don’t involve being active,” said Marlies trainer Mark Fitzgerald. “But the other side of that is that even high performance athletes aren’t as involved in pure play as they could be. When a kid tells me he plays and trains for hockey 12 months a year, I think they’re missing something. If you play other sports the sport you are concentrating on will improve.”