“We are averaging between 100 and 130 participants a season,” said Director of Community Relations, Jim Hall. “We have roughly 100 school groups between public, private, and home school groups participating.”
The program is making a difference in the community and exposing school kids to the world of hockey. “It brings in new fans, readers, and people that might not normally come to a hockey game,” Hall said.
About six miles down the road from Infinite Energy Arena, where the Gladiators play their home games, is Walnut Grove Elementary School. This school has participated in the program for eight years and average about 40 to 50 student participants each year. When asked about the impact that that it has on the school, Walnut Grove media specialist Amy Bross said, “It pulls the kids together, encourages reading, and encourages friends to read and go to a game together.”
Hat Trick for Reading isn’t the only way the Gladiators are involved in the Atlanta community. “We do three events throughout the year. We gather non-perishable food to give to shelters around the holidays, we collect jackets for the poor around the first of the year, and we have the teddy bear toss event in February,” Hall said.
While hockey may not be ATL’s most popular pastime, the Gladiators are dedicated to creating more hockey fans — and bookworms.
Photos: Atlanta Gladiators (classroom), Bruce Bennett/Getty Images (action)