Hockey club continues work with children's hospital

As the number one seed of the Blue Ridge Hockey Conference, the Mason club ice hockey team has a lot to be proud of. One source of pride for the team and its coaches is their involvement with the Children’s National Medical Center.

On Oct. 25, the Mason club ice hockey team visited the Children’s National Medical Center’s main hospital in Washington D.C. for a tour of the facilities and the opportunity to meet and spend time with patients.

“We got to spend a good amount of time with the kids, and it’s a very humbling experience,” said Brian Bock, senior co-captain of the team. “It really makes you think about how good you have things.”

The team began their association with Children’s National Medical Center due partially to their coach, Steve Hyjek. Prior to coaching at Mason, Hyjek ran the charity golf outing for the Washington Capitals that benefited the Children’s National Medical Center.

Through this connection with the hospital, the current team and Mason alumni hockey players participated in a program called “Be Brave and Shave.” For the fundraiser, over 25 players, coaches and alumni shaved their heads and raised $19,700 for the pediatric oncology department of Children’s National Medical Center.

Although the team raised a substantial amount of money, they wanted to do more.

“Some of the guys on the team said, ‘We’d really like to go and visit this hospital, see what this is all about, and meet some of these kids,’” Hyjek said.

Wearing shirts, ties and their gold Mason jerseys, the team toured the facility where doctors showed them the difficulties in treating children. Throughout the initial part of the tour, players learned about the work the hospital does as well as information about pediatric cancer. After the informational portion, the players got the opportunity to meet some of the patients.

“It was a great day where we got to meet a lot of kids and see a lot of smiles,” said Seve Cordova, senior left-winger for Mason. “It didn’t matter if they like hockey or played hockey, they were just excited that Mason was there.”

Sophomore defense-man and team president Nick Baker shared a similar sentiment about meeting some of the patients.

“Seeing what those kids go through everyday makes me see how minor our problems are,” Baker said. “We went into this little boy’s room, and we gave him our t-shirt and signed the puck for him. To see the look on his face was priceless.”

The visit to the Children’s National Medical Center represents one example of the Mason club ice hockey team’s commitment to give back to the community. Every year the team holds an annual fundraiser that supports different charities that aid military veterans and their families. In addition, several Mason players participate in the kids’ skate at Kettler Ice Plex, where players help special needs children learn to skate.

“Doing these things really makes you realize you gotta give back. I think it’s something that everyone loves to do,” Cordova said. “We know we have responsibilities. Not everyone is fortunate enough to go play college hockey. I think it’s a huge thing that we give back and continue to give back [to the community].”

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