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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP / East County | Simi Valley

Hockey Pro Delivers Message to Students

October 03, 2000|JOSH KARP

Jeffrey Briggs grabbed a hockey stick and lined up ready to shoot with all his might.

Just as the 10-year-old sixth-grader at Hollow Hills Fundamental School was ready to swing inside the school's multipurpose room, his father, Stephen, warned him: no slap shots.

"He has a tendency to get overzealous sometimes," said the older Briggs. But who could blame him? Thanks to his father's friend, Jeffrey had the honor of bringing Los Angeles Kings hockey star Luc Robitaille to school Monday afternoon.

Each of the past two years, Robitaille has spoken at a Southern California-area school through a contest co-sponsored by Nestle and Smart & Final. Jeffrey's father's friend was automatically entered into the contest through the store when he made a purchase. The grand prize: Robitaille would appear at a local school on the winner's behalf.

Since Briggs' co-worker in the Los Angeles Fire Department didn't have children, he offered the winnings to Briggs after receiving the prize about two weeks ago. Jeffrey and about 200 other fifth- and sixth-graders had about an hourlong session with the hockey star.

Some asked questions; a handful, such as Jeffrey, got to take shots at a rubber ball or plastic puck, and all received advice from Robitaille.

"If you have a dream in life, go for it," said Robitaille, who explained to the students that his pursuit of the NHL dream began when he was a boy in Montreal. "It's a lot of hard work, but go for it and you'll never regret it."

Those words rang true with Robitaille's audience, including Jeffrey.

"It makes kids feel better when a famous person tells them they can go for it," Jeffrey said. "It helps them out."

Robitaille, who called Wayne Gretzky his favorite hockey player growing up, said he never forgets the power of words when he speaks before an audience of students.

"There might be just one word that you say that they remember, maybe for the rest of their life," Robitaille said. "If you can say something powerful enough that they'll remember the rest of their life, it's something. It might only happen to one kid out of those 200, but if you make the difference in that one kid for his life, to me that's pretty powerful."

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