As a high school teacher and the head hockey coach at Bayonne, Steve Plancey sees sports as an extension of the classroom and opportunity to teach lessons that go beyond the rink.
On Friday night Plancey and his team looks to teach a valuable lesson – as well as raise some money for a good cause – when it holds its first ever “FIGHT UGLY Holiday Sweater” benefit game when it hosts Kearny-North Arlington-Secaucus in 5:45 p.m. game at Korpi Arena in Bayonne.
Proceeds from the game will benefit the Tyler Clementi Foundation, whose mission is “to end online and offline bullying in schools, workplaces and faith communities.” The Bees have also partnered with men’s grooming company Keepit Handsome and the Cam & Strick hockey podcast on the event.
“We’re using sports, through hockey, to teach them life lessons,” said Plancey. “How to conduct themselves in the hallways, be respectful to the teachers, staff, administration, coaches and overall to each other. I thought this would be a great opportunity for all parties.
“It’s important to be respectful to all people and to everyone.”
As part of the event Bayonne will don green “ugly” sweaters instead of its customary garnet and white uniforms. They are also selling shirts and holding raffles to raise money. Plancey noted they’ve already sold close to 250 shirts and that Kearny has also been raising money leading up to Friday’s game.
Tyler Clementi’s mother and Foundation co-founder Jane will be in attendance. The foundation was created in 2011 after the death by suicide of Tyler, who was a freshman at Rutgers and a victim of cyberbullying. Tyler’s death became a national news story and sparked conversation about the consequences of bullying, especially for LGBT communities and other vulnerable populations.
“We are honored and extremely grateful for the financial support of Bayonne High School’s Skating Bees. We also greatly appreciate the team’s willingness to work together with us to raise awareness about important mental health issues like online and offline bullying,” Jane Clementi said in a press release issued by Bayonne. “I am hopeful this game will begin many healthy conversations with students, parents and faculty that will help break down the stigma of mental health and enable many students to reach out and get the help they need.”