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Stars Promote Reading

Monday, 01.22.2007 / 11:00 PM CT / News
Dallas Stars
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Stars Promote Reading
By Ken Sins

Naturally, hockey takes center stage this week as the Stars host their first NHL All-Star Game. But there was another subject on the agenda Tuesday morning that is also near and dear to the hearts of the Stars -- reading -- when Marty Turco, Brenden Morrow and Jussi Jokinen visited Claude Curtsinger Elementary School in Frisco.

The trio made the appearance for a pep rally, reading session and autograph signing in support of the Dallas Stars Supercuts Stick with Reading program. Curtsinger Elementary won the special NHL All-Star visit because its students took top honors among 1,600 participating schools in North Texas by reading the most minutes in their leisure time.

Recognizing that illiteracy has become one of the most pervasive problems in our country, the Dallas Stars Foundation in 1998 created the Stick with Reading program with support from Supercuts. Turco currently serves as spokesman, encouraging students to develop the healthy habit of reading in their leisure time. Since its inception, the program has reached more than 100,000 kids.

Stick with Reading had a record enrollment of 36,000 students this season, and Curtsinger Elementary captured the top prize. Other prize categories include the top reader in each grade level (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) who will receive tickets to a Stars regular-season game, where they will meet Turco and receive a Turco-autographed jersey as well as in-game recognition. The top reading classroom will also get Stars tickets and in-game recognition.

This season's program got underway on Oct. 9, 2006 with a rally at the J.W. Ray Learning Center in Dallas.

About 700 students as well as parents and teachers filled the Curtsinger Elementary auditorium on Tuesday morning. Clad mostly in Stars paraphernalia, the kids and adults saved their loudest cheers for the arrival of the three players, accompanied by mascots of the Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.

MC Celina Rae introduced the players, and then the students heard from Turco, who extolled the merits of reading and praised the winning school.

"This is my favorite part of the week,'' said the Stars All-Star goaltender. "I'm so proud of you guys. Today is a special day. These are the best of the best readers.''

Rae moderated a question-and-answer session during which Morrow named the "Curious George'' series as his all-time favorite books, Jokinen recalled that he started skating as a 3-year-old, and Turco named Wayne Gretzky as his favorite athlete "not only because he was the greatest player but also because he cared about his teammates.''

The session, which lasted almost two hours, wrapped up with the students lining up for autographed player cards.

Turco counts Mitch Albom, the writer of "Tuesdays with Morrie'' and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven'' as his favorite author.

"We travel so much in planes and buses and are on the road so much with so much downtime that you have a lot of time to read,'' Turco said. "Also having young children (two daughters) helps. It's a habit I've had since I was young. I read just before I go to bed, which is tough sometimes with a good book because you don't want to put it down.''

Turco's parents read at home in Sault St. Marie, Ont. and he has maintained the love of books throughout his life.

"My parents read and I had two older sisters who pushed me in education,'' Turco said. "For me, reading comes from wanting to learn, the ability of writers to make you think. I like non-fiction, fiction. My interests are varied.''

Morrow, the team captain who signed dozens of autographs despite the fact that he is recovering from severed tendons in his wrist that will keep him out of the Stars' lineup for at least another month, became a serious reader as a teen-ager when he moved from his hometown of Carlyle, Sask. to Portland, Ore. for junior hockey.

Early in high school, Morrow had mediocre grades. He was told that if he wanted to continue to play hockey, he'd have to improve.

He became more serious about reading, boosting his academic standing to the point that he was named top scholastic player of the Western Hockey League for two years.

"It comes from my parents, the hard work and dedication that they had,'' Morrow said. "My wife and I have a little girl now and she likes us to sing to her and read to her. So I find time to read. I like golf magazines to try to fix my game.''

Jokinen became an avid reader in his native Finland, and he also utilizes the downtime during long team flights and bus rides for sports non-fiction and books about history.

"I started reading when I was a 6-year-old,'' Jokinen said. "We have a lot of time to ourselves on the road and I use that to read about things that interest me.''

The students at Curtsinger Elementary were thrilled to meet their hockey heroes, but the three Stars left equally impressed by a school full of serious readers.






1 x - ANA 78 49 22 7 227 216 105
2 x - NSH 77 47 22 8 220 188 102
3 STL 75 46 22 7 228 186 99
4 CHI 75 45 24 6 213 175 96
5 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
6 VAN 75 43 27 5 215 203 91
7 WPG 76 39 25 12 215 201 90
8 CGY 76 41 28 7 224 201 89
9 LAK 75 37 24 14 200 188 88
10 DAL 76 37 29 10 236 243 84
11 SJS 76 37 30 9 212 215 83
12 COL 75 35 28 12 205 209 82
13 EDM 75 22 40 13 181 254 57
14 ARI 76 23 45 8 160 252 54


J. Benn 76 28 44 -4 72
T. Seguin 66 34 35 -1 69
J. Spezza 76 16 41 -3 57
J. Klingberg 59 11 27 6 38
C. Eakin 72 17 19 -2 36
T. Daley 62 16 19 -9 35
A. Goligoski 76 4 31 0 35
A. Hemsky 70 11 21 -6 32
S. Horcoff 72 11 17 8 28
V. Fiddler 74 12 14 -6 26
K. Lehtonen 34 15 10 .907 2.84
J. Enroth 14 26 2 .900 3.28
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