WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The National Hockey League took over Capitol Hill on Wednesday to teach dozens of local students about the intersection of science and sports.
Members of the Washington Capitals organization and a local Olympic gold medalist showed off their skills to children as part of the league's "Future Goals" program, which integrates hockey into science technology, and math (STEM) education.
Haley Skarupa, a Wootton High School graduate who won a gold medal as part of the U.S. Women's Hockey team in the 2018 Winter Olympics, says she's seen an uptick in interest in youth hockey for both boys and girls over the last year.
"Especially since the Caps winning the Stanley Cup, it's exploded in this area," said Skarupa. "It's been awesome. I grew up playing in this area, and to come back and see the number of teams and opportunities for girls, it's very awesome and exciting."
The event, at the Rayburn House Office Building, also attracted curious on-lookers - as the Capitals' mascot, Slapshot, joined by the New Jersey Devils team mascot, and the Philadelphia Flyers' now-infamous orange behemoth (better known as Gritty) - trading pratfalls and pranks.
The NHL says more than 2 million students, nearly half of whom are enrolled in free- and reduced-lunch programs, have taken part in the Future Goals program since it launched in 2014.