Sunday, December 9, 2012

NHL star Jordan Eberle presents signed jersey to his former elementary school in Regina


December 7, 2012

Jordan Eberle was all class while in class.

From Left to Right: Principal Blair Gullickson, Edmonton Oilers' Jordan Eberle and Regina Pats President Brent Parker were on hand at the W.S. Hawrylak School to present Eberle's former elementary school with an autographed jersey on Thursday, December 6, 2012 in Regina.

Photograph by: Troy Fleece, Regina Leader-Post

That is the fond recollection of Ronna Schweitzer, who taught the future Regina Pats and Edmonton Oilers star when he was in Grade 6 at W.S. Hawrylak School.

"He's just a fabulous hockey player and, on top of that, he was a fabulous kid,'' Schweitzer said Thursday morning after Eberle visited his former elementary school. "He was the top student in the class - just an all-around wonderful kid. He's one of the best kids I ever taught, if not the best.

"This is an honour.''

Eberle was honoured by the Pats on Wednesday night, when his No. 7 jersey was retired by the WHL team before its home game against the Red Deer Rebels. The following morning, Eberle and Pats president Brent Parker presented a framed jersey to the staff and students at Hawrylak.

After the presentation, Schweitzer sought out Eber-le and his mother, Lisa, and hugged them.
"I could hardly wait for this,'' Schweitzer said. "I was not going to miss it.''

Schweitzer spent the final seven years of her teaching career at Hawrylak before retiring - well, sort of - in 2006. She has continued to teach on a regular basis as a substitute. On Thursday morning, she got the good news - discovering that she would be subbing at Hawrylak.

"All night, I kept waking up, wondering if I'd get to go to Hawrylak,'' Schweitzer said.

She ended up teaching a kindergarten class on the school's second floor, just down the hall from the room (numbered 202) in which Eberle took Grade 6 classes.

All classrooms were empty when Eberle was the featured guest at a morning assembly in the gymnasium. Moreover, the bells were temporarily deactivated so as not to interrupt Eberle as he spoke to the students.
"This is a little different than I remember it,'' the 22-year-old Eberle, who is playing for the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons during the NHL lockout, told the enthusiastic gathering. "Eight years have gone by pretty quickly.

"I grew up just down the street, on Janzen Crescent. This place has always been close to my heart. My siblings also went here - my two sisters and my brother - and we all really enjoyed it.''

After a brief address, Eberle invited questions from the students. Immediately, dozens of hands shot up in the air.

Did you get a concussion?

"No, I haven't had a concussion ... thank you.''

What is your favourite muffin?

"Good question. I don't really eat muffins.''

What stadium do you play in?

"Rexall Place in Edmonton.''

What was your favourite toy as a kid?

"Mini-sticks. I used to play mini-sticks all the time with my younger brother. We used to drive our mom crazy because there were holes everywhere.''

How many goals did you score with the Pats?

"My GM (Parker, the Pats' former general manager) says 155. He knows better than I do.''

What's your favourite colour?


How do you prepare for a game?

"We always have a morning skate. After that, I always eat chicken pasta with meat sauce. After that, I have a nap for two hours, and then I go to the rink. I always tape my stick the same way. Some people say I'm superstitious and some people say I'm crazy, but I do the same thing before every game.''
What city do you play in? "Right now, I play in Oklahoma. Once the NHL starts again, I'll be playing in Edmonton.''

What's your favourite team other than the Edmonton Oilers?

"Growing up, my favourite team was always the Oilers. My favourite team other than the Oilers? ... How about the Saskatchewan Roughriders.''

What is the most embarrassing song in your iPod?

"I got to meet Justin Bie-ber and he's a pretty cool kid. I've got a couple of his songs (on the iPod). He's pretty talented.''

How many years have you been playing hockey?

"I started skating when I was two years old. I've always loved it. I remember going to outdoor rinks just over here with my brother and my sisters and my teammates. With dedication and hard work, I got to where I am today.''

Eberle's dedication and hard work were also evident in the classroom.

Following the 2007-08 season - his second with the Pats - he was named the WHL's scholastic player of the year due to his accomplishments in Grade 12 at O'Neill High School.

Schweitzer, for one, was not the least bit surprised.

"When he went to school here, he was the hockey player on every team that he was on,'' she said. "That was his dream. But he was always such a bright boy that he could have done anything he wants. He was always the top kid in the room.''

And the top kid on a list of a different sort.

"It's an honour to say that I taught him and an honour to be here today,'' Schweitzer concluded.

"My favourite Facebook friend is Jordan Eberle.''