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Players read to kids at Story Time to encourage them to pick up books on their own

When he plays hockey for the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers, Westland-native Tyler J. Brown is known as a blue-collar, gritty player who gets in the opposition’s face and stays there. He’s not fun to play against.


(Above) Whalers Austin Mattson and Tyler J. Brown are the most recent pair of Whalers to read to kids at the Canton Library. (Below) RJ Mahalak and Beau Schmitz kicked off the summer reading program on June 15.
(Above) RJ Mahalak and AJ Jenks read to the kids on June 26. (Below) Mascot Shooter and Mahalak get a photo with the kids after reading on July 7.

Whalers rookie Austin Mattson (Livonia) likes to compare himself to Red Wing Darren Helm. Mattson admires Helm’s speed and tenacity.


Last Thursday at the Canton Public Library, Brown and Mattson showed a gentler, kinder side when they read and interacted with children during the library’s summer reading program.


The Whalers and Canton Public Library are teaming up this year to bring spice to the Library’s Summer Reading Program. Earlier this summer, Plymouth veterans Beau Schmitz, RJ Mahalak, and AJ Jenks and even mascot Shooter read to children on three separate occasions. Much like Whalers head coach Mike Vellucci changes players on the fly, Brown and Mattson took the next shift on Thursday. Myles McCauley and Brown will return for another shift at the library on Thursday, August 6 from 11am-Noon.


“This year, I think our partnership with the Whalers has gelled together well,” said Kristen Kostielney, Canton Public Library Program Specialist. “Everyone who has come out here has been awesome. The rapport the Whalers have with the kids is incredible. Sports people are every young child’s idol, so to have the children listen to the stories and find out some of the Whalers’ favorite book is Dr. Seuss is something they can relate to. This is really fun.”


Sure enough, it didn’t take long for Brown and Mattson to command the attention of the 16 children who started the session and the 20 who finished. Although the Whalers read quietly, they held the attention of the group for at least ten minutes before members started to squirm – a normal trait that goes hand-and-hand with any group of young children.


“The kids really paid attention and that goes to show the rapport the Whalers have with the children,” said Kostielney. “The Whalers can relate with all of them. They aren’t teachers, so the kids relate to them easily. The players that have appeared here this year talk to the kids at their level. That’s very important for children.”


Although he attended the reading session as a parent with his eight-year-old son, Brandon, Dean Garber of Canton saw the event in a different light. Garber coached Brown and Mattson when they played together at the Squirt and Pee Wee AAA levels. Garber currently coaches his son for the Canton Crush Mite AA.


“I’ve followed their careers since they both moved on,” said Garber with a smile. “It’s nice to see them again out in the community. It shows that all the hard work that their parents and coaches have put in with them is paying off. It’s really rewarding for them and is rewarding for me as a former coach. 


Join members of the Plymouth Whalers hockey team as they share some of their favorite hockey picture books with their fans at the last summer Story Time on August 6th. No registration required and the fun takes place in the Purple Room of the Canton Library.

“Brandon is excited about coming to see the Whalers play on opening night in Windsor (on Thursday, September 17).”

The Whalers’ partnership with the Canton Public Library goes beyond player appearances. The library will be distributing tickets for Plymouth games over the course of the 2009-10 season. Future events are in the planning stages as well.


The Canton Public Library is located at 1200 Canton Center Road. Check out future events online at http://www.cantonpl.org/


Although the Whalers are technically in the middle of their off-season, they have a full schedule of public appearances scheduled this summer. Check out future appearances online at www.plymouthwhalers.com/appearances.html.





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