As the New York Islanders prepare for game 4 of the playoffs, this post takes a look at two creative high school students who turn their passion for hockey into a fundraiser for the Smithtown Food Pantry. Tenth graders Connor Negri and Michael Tarquinio, of Smithtown High School East, were recognized for their roller hockey clinic fundraiser at Smithtown Youth Bureau’s 4th annual celebration of Global Youth Service Day, a world-wide, three-day event. Read my article about Smithtown’s celebration of Global Youth Service Day in The Times of Smithtown.
“We both love roller hockey, and we thought it would be a good idea to teach the kids about it,” Negri said. “I’ve always played hockey for as long as I could remember,” Tarquinio added.
Both boys are 16 years old, and they say they started really playing hockey at age 12. They have both played for the Smithtown Hauppauge Bulls JV Ice Hockey and Smithtown Bulls Varsity Roller Hockey teams. Tarquinio’s roller hockey experience also includes Long Island 495ers 16A and Galaxy, a house league at The Sports Arena. As a slightly more experienced player, Negri’s roller hockey team affiliations also include Long Island 495ers 16AAA travel roller hockey, Skatesafe Elites League, and another house league called Hangers.
Negri said that his father knew the manager at The Sports Arena in St. James personally, so the boys explained their plan and requested rink time. “We planned with the rink manager, and we gave him a stack of flyers to distribute,” Tarquinio said. Further preparation for the event included personally distributing flyers to other kids.
The Roller Hockey Clinic
The roller hockey clinic took place at The Sports Arena on March 28 during spring break. Twelve students paid a $10 admission fee, raising $120 for Smithtown Emergency Food Pantry.
Group drills kept the clinic fun and organized. “At first, it was difficult, but we did basic drills that would improve everyone’s skills. You could tell it was a lot of kids’ first time skating… but we made it fun for them,” Negri explained.
After the Event
When the event was over, Negri and Tarquinio bought the food for the Smithtown Food Pantry themselves. They experienced budgeting first hand, taking full advantages of sales and lower prices.
“They had asked what we needed, and they brought it over,” explained Pat Westlake, Executive Coordinator of Smithtown Emergency Food Pantry, also called Smithtown Food Pantry. The pantry is an all-volunteer organization founded in 1984 and run by seven local churches. The churches alternate monthly to provide a consistent source of food for those who need it.
Smithtown Food Pantry relies heavily on individuals. “I’m so proud that we have young men like this in our community that care about other people and are willing to give their time to help,” Westlake said.
Negri and Tarquinio agreed that the roller hockey clinic was fun for all attendees. In fact, both boys are already discussing another possible roller hockey clinic event.