Rhinos Mentor Crosby Elementary Students
As a way to give back to El Paso, Lori Briggs, the former figure skating director at the El Paso County Coliseum, created the Rhinos Mentoring Program five years ago. Every school year since then, the Rhinos Organization sends players to Crosby Elementary School where they become interactive role models to the students. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Brandon Edson, Halen Sampson, Lucas Dickison and the Plesa brothers join several Crosby Cougars in the classroom.
Nick, Matthew and Peter Plesa, each born only a year a part, were raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Only recently having moved to El Paso to play for the Rhinos, the Plesas acknowledge the need to immerse themselves in their new community. “Coming from another part of the world,” Nick notes, “it’s good to interact with a younger crowd.”
Until the end of the hockey season in March, the Plesa brothers will work with three fifth graders, concentrating on reading before winter break and math during the spring semester. “It’s nice to get to know them and teach them a few things,” Matt explains. Ask them who is better at the math and reading teaching and one responds, “We are all three good at both,” evoking laughter from his brothers. They admit that they were more competitive when they were younger, but now they enjoy playing on the same team, and more specifically on the same line.
With a comical combined dynamic, infectious smiles, and a surreal amount of patience, it is easy to see why these three young men make great mentors. However, they don’t accredit much of their success to their personalities. Without hesitation, they immediately acknowledge their father as their mentor. “He focused on school and hockey at a young age, helping us with homework and setting up private practices with just the three of us and a goaltender,” Nick explains.
Fortunate enough to have their role model and father embodied by a single person, the Plesas intend to extend the mentoring they have received to the students with which they work. The extension of guidance and support is also a goal of the Rhinos head coach, Cory Herman. “Sometimes kids need a mentor. There are a lot of things kids can get into now a days and having a mentor that they look up to could help them make the right decisions.” Herman adds, “It also gives our players a chance to give back to the community that supports them so well.”