School Visits and Practice
BELFAST, Ireland – The Yale Men's Hockey Team is on day three of its Ireland trip in preparation for the 2018 Friendship Four Tournament in Belfast. Today, the team split up into two groups to visit local schools and talk about being a student-athlete in the U.S. and attending a prestigious university.
The morning was about school visits and the afternoon was about hockey. The Elis skated at the SSE Arena for the second time since coming across the pond.
The Bulldogs play Union on Friday at 10 a.m. ET in the first semifinal. Boston University and Connecticut battle in the second contest at 2 p.m. Both games air live on NESN, TSN and ESPN+.
The team is staying across the street from the arena at the Titanic Hotel, which is all about the famous, ill-fated cruise ship. In fact, the Titanic Museum is next door to the hotel and the grounds around it are all part of the old shipyard that built the vessel that sank when it hit an iceberg in 1912.
Student-Athlete Perspective, Ted Hart
We had our first breakfast at the Titanic Hotel this morning at 8 AM. There was a massive spread of food prepared for us, and I kept my streak of eating potatoes during every meal while in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
After breakfast, our team split into two groups to visit two of the schools. My group, the seniors and sophomores, went to the Fleming Fulton School. It serves as a special education and services school for students from 3 to 19 years old, and it was full of wonderful kids and staff members. We hosted a Q & A with the students, who were very eager to learn about Yale and what it's like to be a hockey player. It was awesome to see how much the kids loved watching the Belfast Giants, and how hockey, as a sport, is growing in the Belfast area.
After the school visits, we travelled to the rink for lunch and practice. It feels like everyone is finally rested and over the jet lag. There is a ton of energy and enthusiasm for our first game of the Friendship Four on Friday.
Tonight, headed to McHugh's Restaurant for dinner at 6 PM, and now have free time to explore Belfast until check in at 10. I'm excited to walk around and see the different monuments and attractions that make Belfast so unique.
Student-Athlete Perspective, Billy Sweezey
Today was our first full day in Belfast. We woke up for an early breakfast to visit two schools so we could introduce them to our team. My group, the junior class and the first years, had the honor of visiting the Dundonald Primary School.
We started off by introducing ourselves in an assembly with about 200 P5 and P6 students (equivalent to about 3rd and 4th grade in the states). After dressing up one of the students, and one of the student teachers, in goalie equipment, we split into groups of two and went into the different classes to answer questions about our experiences. My classmate, Will D'Orsi, and I went into a class together and fielded questions about studying at Yale, playing hockey, and the difference between fútbol and (American) football.
After that, we were lucky enough to be around to experience recess with the kids, who were thrilled to have us out with them. While Justin Pearson '22 was getting mauled by a group of kids, the rest of us were learning the rules to a new game called "caught," which was a barbaric version of tag, where everyone seemed to be "it" and "not it" at the same time. We had some notable performances from the team, including a soccer prodigy telling Will, "I hate to break it to you, but you're too slow." Then there was Luke Stevens '20 showing the kids how to slide tackle in the mud. Overall, we had a great experience meeting and interacting with the kids at the school. After giving about 100 high-fives each, we jumped on the bus to head to lunch and practice.
After practice we had a little bit of down time at the hotel before heading to dinner. We had a great meal at a local pub which was followed by time to walk around downtown Belfast and meet up with some family that also made the trip. The team is getting more and more excited as the games continue to draw closer and are loving our experience so far!