On Sept. 19, Paul Strand, Stormy and I ventured out to the IcePlex in North Raleigh to partake in the Triangle Special Hockey Association’s first-ever sled hockey practice.
Over the past three years, the Triangle Special Hockey Association (TSHA) has provided adults and children with developmental disabilities with a recreational hockey program. This year, going into their fourth season, TSHA has expanded and is now offering a sledge hockey program to adults and children with physical disabilities. Through donations from the Carolina Hurricanes Kids 'N Community Foundation, the program was able to buy 10 sledges.
For those of you who may not know much about sled hockey, players sit on a specially designed sledge and use two short sticks with ice picks on the end to propel themselves across the ice. The sleds have blades that are located below the seat, or “bucket,” and the players are then strapped in over the thighs and over the shins. The rules of ice hockey are followed and the players are required to wear all of the protective hockey equipment that is worn for ice hockey.
Doesn’t sound too hard, right? Wrong! I’ve been playing hockey my whole life and this was a huge challenge for me. The amount of physical fitness that it took to push myself across the ice, not to mention passing or receiving the puck or shooting, was crazy! Stopping was definitely the hardest challenge to conquer. After an hour on the ice, we finally managed to figure out a way to not crash into the boards. I’m sure it is not the proper way to stop, but we began to drags our sticks behind us in order to slow our momentum. The techniques used to do this, as well as move across the ice, shoot the puck and turn, gave my arms and abdominal muscles a great workout.
Along with Paul (coach), Stormy, program President/Assistant Coach J.V. Cotterel and myself, there were four kids who tried sledge hockey for the first time that day. It was great to see how much fun they were having with this new experience. From all the drills Paul had us doing to the half-ice races that we did back-to-back-to-back, everyone was exhausted by the end of practice!
TSHA is a great program run by dedicated volunteers, and the opportunity they give adults and children who may have never had the chance to participate in the sport is very special. If you would like to learn more about the Triangle Special Hockey Association, please visit their website at www.trianglespecialhockey.org. If you would like to see a video from the practice, please click on the youtube link below. I’m sure you’ll get a good laugh (especially at Stormy!)