SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – American International College (AIC) hockey players Reggie Millette and Blake Bennett addressed about 700 students about overcoming hardships in life through sports and education.

Millette, a sophomore, and Bennett, a senior, talked to around 700 students in grades three through six at the Squadron Line Elementary School in Simsbury, Connecticut, on Wednesday, January 4, about how sports changed their lives, according to a news release sent to 22News from AIC.

Millette and Bennett are ambassadors who use their experiences as members of an NCAA Division I college hockey team to give back to the community because of what they were fortunate to receive. They started by sharing their stories of family challenges during childhood and told the students that a passion for playing hockey is what helped them stay focused on their life goals.

They were both welcomed by the Squadron Line students, who asked for autographs and pictures with the players after their discussion. The students were also given free vouchers to attend the AIC versus UMass Lowell hockey game at the MassMutual Center on January 7. Any student who went on Saturday had the chance to meet the team in the locker room after the game.

Both Millette and Bennett want to play hockey professionally after they graduate. Millette would also like to start a non-profit organization to benefit less fortunate kids who are interested in playing hockey but might not have the resources needed to participate in the sport.

“It’s definitely something I hold dearly in my heart because I was definitely one of those kids before, not knowing what I’m going to do after school, or where’s my next meal coming from. Handing over a hockey stick to a kid who’s never held one before and just knowing what it’s done for me is inspiring for me as well. Having a kid look up to you in that dramatic of a fashion makes you feel like a superhero,” said Millette.