The Union Dutchmen and Dutchwomen hockey teams are preparing to host the STRIDE Adaptive Sports Sled Warriors on December 10, 2019. The fun-filled evening takes place at the Frank L. Messa Rink at Achilles Center in Schenectady from 5:45 P.M to 7:00 P.M. The Union College hockey team is comprised of elite D1 players who will learn the importance of having humility by playing against the Sled Warriors. What is even more exciting is that both the men and women’s teams will play against the Sled Warriors in sleds! The public is highly encouraged to attend and enjoy a night filled with friendly competition, great sportsmanship, and many laughs. At the event, donations will be accepted to support the Sled Warrior’s hockey team with travel costs and game accommodations.
During the scrimmage, the playing field will be leveled and Dutchmen/Dutchwomen will not be as fast or agile in their normal hockey positions. Union College has always been a very strong supporter of STRIDE Adaptive Sports’ mission. In the summer months, Union allows STRIDE to use its facilities to run “I Can Ride” bike camp. Similarly, this hockey scrimmage is another example of the extreme generosity Union College displays towards STRIDE’s adaptive sports programs. The Union Assistant Athletic Director, Brianne Brinker, encouraged the idea of a scrimmage against these teams and plans to bring this thought to fruition quickly commenced. If not for the hard work and dedication of Union Women’s Hockey player Cheyenne Harris and Union Men’s Hockey player Anthony Rinaldi—former interns at STRIDE Adaptive Sports—this event would not be possible.
Twelve years ago, the STRIDE sled hockey team (originally Bethlehem Sled Hockey) was founded by Tom and Kim Wilson of Slingerlands for their son and local teenagers with mobility issues. They wanted nothing more than to make hockey accessible to those with lower limb disabilities. STRIDE Adaptive Sports took over the team in 2009, and the sport has continued to grow in popularity ever since. Similar to ice hockey, sled hockey is an exciting and competitive full-contact sport. Players sit in specially designed sleds that sit on top of two hockey skate blades, and each player uses two sticks with metal picks on the end. Players use their picks to pass, stickhandle, shoot the puck, and propel their sled across the ice. This past season, the team had 15 members with two additional pushers. There are the varsity and junior varsity squad, including numerous wounded warrior veterans who actively participate.
This past April, the Sled Warriors won their first tournament in five years at the 21st Annual New England Invitational Sled Hockey Tournament with a thrilling goal in the championship game against the New York Rangers. The willing goal was scored by Stefon Stillwell, giving the team a 6-5 victory. Earlier in the season, the Sled Warriors also competed in the NYS Empire State Winter Games in Lake Placid, earning a silver medal for their hard work!
From October to April, the team meets weekly on Sundays from 11:00 to 12:00 p.m. Practices are held on weekends at the Albany County Hockey Facility ice rink, with tournaments and games scheduled throughout the late winter and early spring. While winning may be the primary incentive for some, the Sled Warriors believe that victories come from the pride and happiness they radiate both on and off the ice. Regardless of skill, no player is ever turned away; everyone finds their true passion on the ice. Having such a positive mindset has rewarded this team with tremendous success in all that they accomplish together. For more information, visit https://www.stride.org/sports/sled-hockey/. To register, contact email@example.com or call 518-598-1279.