Coyotes Work With Down Syndrome Advocacy Group To Bring Hosts To Game Nights

The six new Gila River Arena hosts enjoy a Coyotes game with Angels For Higher founders Robert Hendershot and Trevor Hendershot.

Longtime Coyotes fans attending Saturday night’s game against the Seattle Kraken might see a new face or two welcoming them to the Gila River Arena.

There will be six new faces among those who welcome fans of the game, as the Coyotes have partnered with Angels For Higher, an organization that helps make it easier to hire people with Down’s syndrome to work as hostesses at sports venues, university campuses and performing arts centers. .

The Coyotes join 20 other sports, professional and college teams and are the fourth NHL team to line up with Angels For Higher, based in Orange County, Calif. The Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators are also in the game.

The Coyotes first heard about Angels For Higher from Patrick Murphy, president of business operations, strategy and team development. Murphy held administrative positions in schools in Southern California before joining the Coyotes and connected with Angels For Higher through mutual friends of the founders of the organization.

Murphy praised the program to Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez, both agreeing it would be a good choice given what the club has established as what it stands for: diversity. , inclusion and providing opportunities to people from many different communities.

Discussions resumed and six residents were chosen to become hosts. Next, the Coyotes hosted the founders of Angels For Higher and the hosts and their families at a game last month.

The Gila River Arena in Glendale on September 20, 2021.

The Gila River Arena in Glendale on September 20, 2021.

“They hired six hosts, which is more than we’ve had anywhere,” said Robert Hendershot, CEO and President of Angels for Higher. “Nothing says there is more to a team than winning games and making money than having someone with a recognizable disability welcoming people into the stadium.

“It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Hendershot was inspired by his own son Trevor’s experience as a person with Down syndrome who was bullied as a child, but over time he won over all of his classmates with his personality. Trevor, now part of the executive group of Angels For Higher, got a job with the Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball working at their stadium team store, then was hired by the Ducks and in 2018 had a job with USC and the Los Angeles Rams. .

Trevor, a regular at Southern California sports venues for years who has become a friendly and familiar face to many fans, now helps with in-person presentations to show teams the kind of person they will hire to host. .

Angels For Higher acts as a liaison between local associations with Down’s Syndrome and sports teams, to help identify candidates for employment.

“This is not a job for everyone. As you know there are sometimes a lot of obnoxious people, loud noises. It is not for the faint of heart. So part of our service is to meet parents and their son or daughter who wants this job virtually or in person, ”said Hendershot.“ It’s a family job too. The welcome should be outgoing, cheerful and physically strong enough to stand up. … But parents must make a commitment to get them there and serve as a professional coach if necessary. “

The Coyotes have agreed to allow the hosts’ parents to be nearby to help supervise things and make sure everything is going well.

Gutierrez said the hosts will improve the fan experience at Coyotes games for the remainder of the season.

Three employees will work with Levy Foods, which provides concessions during games, two will work in the team store and one will work throughout the building.

“I am delighted that we have created a culture where people understand that this is what we want to be,” said Gutierrez. “I love that it stands to reason that we would be open to opportunities to open doors to people from all walks of life, from different communities… and we have some really amazing partnerships in place.”

Ice-cream fries

–Coyotes head coach André Tourigny said ahead of Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks that defenseman Cam Dineen and forward Ben McCartney are due to make their NHL debuts that night.

—Defender Kyle Capobianco skates with the team, as do injured forwards Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Dzingel. Capobianco is now hand to hand, Tourigny said.

Contact Jose Romero at [email protected] Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Coyotes Go To The Down Syndrome Community To Improve The Gaming Experience For Fans

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