One of the greatest things about college sports are the longstanding traditions that have been established over many decades between fans and players. Many of these rituals help to bond a small community that truly values the camaraderie and connection they have with a sports program. Oswego State is a small school in upstate New York that many college sports fans around the country may not know too much about, but they have a pretty neat annual tradition going on.
In early December, they revived an event that had been dormant for a couple of years involving a sizeable amount of teddy bears. After the Oswego State men’s hockey team scored their first goal against Morrisville State, fans were encouraged to launch teddy bears over the boards and on to the ice. It is appropriately known in those parts as the “Teddy Bear Toss.”
While the visual of hundreds of teddy bears on the ice is a fun one to support, there’s actually a very practical purpose for this tradition. Each stuffed animal thrown on to the playing surface and donated throughout the arena are donated to Toys for Tots, an organization who gives toys to kids whose families do not have the financial means to buy them on their own. Oswego State men’s hockey head coach Ed Gosek even remarked how much his players have enjoyed including this as part of one of their final fall semester home games.
“You want to be the guy that scores the goal to let it rain bears and stuffed animals. But(the players) will say, ‘who’s got it? Who’s getting it? Who’s bringing it down?’” Gosek revealed. Via Oswegocountytoday.com
Unfortunately, Oswego State was not able to partake in this tradition in the usual manner in 2020 due to the pandemic, but they did not skip the “Teddy Bear Toss” altogether. Fans of the Lakers hockey team(both men’s and women’s) threw teddy bears into an empty parking lot last December to keep the spirit alive.
In November 2021, the women’s hockey team held their own Teddy Bear Toss, and 80 stuffed animals were thrown on to the ice.