Contact: Mary Ellen Whitney (518) 598-1279
Media Release: February, 2010
STRIDE Sled Warriors: Children with Disabilities Teach Local Disabled Veterans how to play the game
Game time: Sunday February 28 2:30 pm Albany Academy
Albany, NY -- STRIDE Sled Warriors come from the Capital Region of New York to do one thing, play hockey. “I just like to be out on the ice and moving fast,” said one eager participant; “Hockey is the only sport where it’s okay to roughhouse.” The players are young adults who are athletic, strong-willed, courageous, determined and physically challenged.
The sport recently caught the attention of Stratton Veteran’s Administration Hospital recreation therapists in Albany NY, where there are many veteran patients who have been wounded in wars, ranging from WWII to Iraq. The Capital District Sled Warriors team played a demo game at the Times Union Center for professional River Rats Hockey and was contacted afterwards to host a teaching clinic for disabled veterans in hopes to help them find some excitement through sports.
Full contact sled hockey is the same hockey you’ll see on the rink at the River Rats games, but in a seated position. There are goals and hat tricks. Players are penalized and put in the box. Players push and shove and do what they can to advance the puck. It is called Sled Hockey and it is the rage in Canada and Europe, where it had its beginnings, and became a Paralympic sport. The concept is catching on in New York too, and teams are emerging around the state for youths, juniors and adults.
“Come on, come on, we’re waiting for you,” said an eager player, as his buddy was being strapped into his sled and lifted onto the ice. These youth players are now going to teach the military Service members how to play hockey, during a clinic that will be held to raise awareness for the emerging team in New York.
The Veterans will come to learn how to move on the ice and how to compete. “There are not too many sports I can play,” says Luke Wilson, son of team coach Tom Wilson. Hockey sticks are taped to his hands because he has trouble holding on to them. The shortened sticks with metal picks on one end help to propel the sled players across the ice. “But I can teach and show others how it’s done, and then maybe we can have another team to play against!”
Sled hockey is more than just a sport for these participants. It is independence and freedom. For all the help and attention they receive from their caretakers, they do this alone. Out on the ice no one is there to assist. It is just the player, the sled, the sticks, the puck and the competition.
The clinic is scheduled for February 28, 2010 from 2:45pm to 4:15 pm at the Albany Academy Ice Rink in Albany NY. For more information on the clinic or on the sled hockey teams, please contact STRIDE 518-598-1279.
About STRIDE Adaptive Sports
STRIDE Adaptive Sports is a volunteer non-profit organization providing over 4,000 adaptive sport and recreation lessons annually to children & individuals with special needs. STRIDE has over 250 skilled volunteer sport instructors, serving more than 1000 families, and offers free programs in 17 different sports and locations. The focus is education in individual life-time sports. With three employees, two of whom are funded through endowed grants, the annual operating budget is comparatively modest, and funding goes directly to programs. STRIDE is an affiliate member of Disabled Sports USA, Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors; an official Red Cross Provider; New York Special Olympics, and US Paralympics Sport Club. STRIDE is recognized as one of the leading adaptive sport programs in the Northeastern United States.