NY1’s New Yorker of the Week is teaching kids the game of life through a sport that made a big difference in his. NY1’s John Schiumo filed the following report.
The fast-paced action, the precision passing, the big saves. It’s everything lifelong hockey lover, Bob Weyersberg, enjoys about the sport.
But several years ago, he noticed there weren't too many young New Yorkers playing.
"We loved playing hockey so much we knew that kids could love playing it if we just gave them the chance,” said Weyersberg.
So, Bob is.
He recruits dozens of volunteers to coach every week for the New York Rangers Street Hockey clinic.
“It’s a lot of fun just to be coached. And the coaches are great, I mean, they do a really good job and they’re always encouraging us,” said 11-year-old Marcus Lopez.
Bob and his team teach the game to hundreds of children from low-income neighborhoods across the five boroughs. He's giving them the opportunity, free of charge.
"The neat thing about it is that some of these kids have never played hockey and you put a stick in their hand and they just light up," said former New York Ranger Brian Mullen, who volunteers at the program. "If I wasn’t for people like Bob, these guys wouldn’t get a chance to play."
"I love hockey because my brother is an awesome hockey goalie,” said 8-year-old Nathaniel Barteos.
Beyond developing awesome skills, the kids learn discipline, sportsmanship, and teamwork.
"You have your goalie who has a special role, your wingers, your defense players. They all have to work together and they all have to understand that they’re trying to achieve the same thing and cooperate to do that. That applies in hockey, that applies in life,” said Weyersberg.
These young players and their families are taking notice.
“Besides just the physical pluses, you know exercising, being in shape, I’m really into team sports and hockey, obviously, team sport. Kids have a lot to learn from that,” said parent Natasha Sweeten.
"I like hockey because we can be a team. This whole community can be a team,” said 9-year-old Elias Insignares.
"The life lesson is that put in a little bit of time, help these kids learn something and develop, show that you care, that just comes back a hundred-fold," said Weyersberg.
A lesson Bob was happy to learn.
And so, for sharing his love of the game, Bob Weyersberg is our New Yorker of the Week.