Jack Duff will never forget his roots.
Just like most kids growing up, Duff always looked forward to when the local hockey team came to his school to talk. He grew up in Kingston so it was always a joy when the Frontenacs came for the day. It was a chance for him and other kids to get to see their heroes up close.
Now Duff finds himself in the position of the hockey player. He is living his dream thanks in large part to all those days when the Frontenacs would visit his school.
“It was a huge influence on me and what I wanted to do,” Duff said. “Hopefully I can have the same kind of impact.”
Well, Duff is certainly giving that his best effort now thanks to an idea that he and Erie Otters’ assistant coach Wes Wolfe came up with. Duff is giving some fans a memorable night of hockey at Erie Insurance Arena.
With the help of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Duff is treating a different fan every game to an exclusive night of hockey which includes a meet and greet with the captain himself.
Through this initiative, Duff invites someone different for every Otters’ home game. They get tickets to the game. Then afterwards the group gets to come down to the locker room area where they get to meet Duff. They’ll talk for a while, take some pictures and then fans will get a puck from him.
“This is a chance to give fans some fun for the night,” Duff said. “It also gives them the opportunity to change how they’re going to be and how they’re going to grow up.”
Duff wanted to give back and do something positive. He fondly remembers his days in Kingston and just how important that was to making him who he is today.
“I remember when I was that age, 10-11, when the Kingston Frontenacs came to school and talked to us. It was cool meeting those guys. The Junior-A team also came to our school and talked with us. They were a huge influence on me.”
Duff’s head coach Chris Hartsburg has noticed how much more comfortable he is in his role and captain of the team.
“He’s feeling more comfortable,” Hartsburg said. “Anytime you have a letter on your jersey you tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself not just from a team standpoint but in how to manage your teammates. I think Jack is a guy that has really high standards. That’s part of the reason why he is our captain.”
Duff is quickly becoming a role model as well. He’s realized how important giving back to the community is. This is not only a great way to give back, but it’s a great way to connect with fans. And it will continue and get bigger as we go.
Duff said that he is working with owner Jim Waters and they are going to have T-Shirts coming in the near future for fans.
They say that every child is just one caring adult away from becoming a success story. Duff is playing the role of a caring adult and hopes to have a major influence on everyone he comes across. Maybe someday one of them will do what Duff is doing now.
A night of hockey fun, a meet and greet and memories that will last a lifetime. Captain Duff is giving back to the Erie community in the best way he can.