By Willie T. Smith III
The Greenville News
GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Greenville Grrrowl will be forced to get up early, but are guaranteed a raucous crowd in their ECHL encounter against the Columbia Inferno today.
When the Grrrowl takes the ice, they will be greeted by about 3,000 screaming children in the game that takes place at 10:35 a.m. at the Bi-Lo Center.
The game, titled Grrrowl Education Day, features a building filled with children from throughout the Upstate, who bought tickets through their schools. This is the third year the team has hosted the event.
A large group from the Northwest Crescent Child Development Center will be in attendance.
“We’re taking 100 4-year olds to the game,” said Northwest teacher Amy Lemmons. “We went last year. Not all the classes participated last year, but everyone is participating this year.”
Although the Grrrowl are expecting a good crowd, a scheduling move and higher-than-expected energy costs might have cost them a larger crowd, according to Grrrowl president Ed Rubinstein.
“We’ll have, I’m guessing, between 2,000 and 3,000 (school kids) there,” said Rubinstein. “We’ve had more in the past. We wanted to move the date up this year, to get it further away from the date when the circus comes to town. Maybe we were a little too smart for our own good. With teachers getting the school year up and running, they might not have had the time to focus on this event.
“We also ran into a situation where, with the higher gas prices, some of the school districts said they were reducing some of their field trips. Other teams have encountered the same problems. We would have considered moving it to another date but we had already changed our schedule twice due to the hurricane.”
The expected high energy level the children bring to the arena is enough to get the Grrrowl players excited, according to team veteran Colin Pepperall.
“The kids bring a lot of excitement to the game,” said Pepperall. “It’s nice to see them get out to the game shouting a screaming. It really gets the guys riled up. It’s tough getting up to play at 10:30 in the morning to play a game. But when the kids get out there screaming it gets you ready quickly.”