If you ask anybody what is Canada’s favourite sport, most likely they will say hockey, of course! It’s a Canadian’s favourite past time to play or watch in the winter, and truth be told, all year ‘round.
You’ve got your traditional ice hockey with players skating on an ice rink, your floor hockey, players running on a gym floor, and you’ve got your road hockey, the best outdoors children’s game (Car!... Game on!).
Then you’ve got sledge hockey. Wait…what? What’s sledge hockey? Well, it’s a different take on the favourite sport; it’s hockey and tobogganing all rolled into one. Players play traditional hockey not by ice skates but by sitting on individual platforms with two skate blades underneath and a stick with metal teeth for pivoting and propulsion.
Like the popularity for watching hockey during the Winter Olympics, sledge hockey has become one of the most popular sports to watch during the Paralympic Games. (Sledge hockey 2018) With love for the sport gaining popularity at the international down to the municipal levels, we have our very own Lanark County recreational team right here in our own backyard…uh…arena.
Through the partnership of Community Living Association (Lanark County), Lanark Community Programs, Lanark Community Support Services, and the Mills Community Support organizations, a beginner-level team has been formed for recreational fun and skill building. Players are from Carleton Place, Almonte, Perth, and Smiths Falls areas who may not have physical disabilities which would require them to use the sleds but have intellectual disabilities that require supports from these organizations.
In its first year 2016-2017, there were just 8 players, but it has grown to 13 in its second-year roster due to reaching out to other services in the community. As this is the only team in the Lanark County area, this team does not compete with other teams; however, there are teams in other surrounding communities.
Coached by Trevor Foster, a Facilitator I with CLA, players follow the standard hockey rules and use, with permission, the comprehensive British Columbia Sledge Hockey Association program, under Hockey Canada, as a fundamental teaching guide. They enjoy 30 minutes of practice time working on various drills then 20 minutes of scrimmage play each week during the season at the Almonte & District Community Centre’s arena.
When asked how he learned the game, Trevor said “YouTube – a lot of YouTube! I watched about 60 games to understand and to learn their styles.” (Foster 2018)
For the last two seasons, the team has been learning how to play this type of hockey, building skills on the ice, and forming great friendships along the way.
"I enjoyed the drills. I liked going fast," Scott M said about his time out on the ice this season. "I had fun playing with my friends at CLA." (Scott.M 2018)
The team has a support roster of CLA assistant coaches Aimee Doyle, Marc Girouard, Katherine Hill, and Susie McKay with assistance from Gavin Bayliss, Caleb Doyle, Cynthia Millar, Ethan Wright, and Chris Young.
“People were very enthusiastic about getting out on the ice to practice their maneuvers each week.” Katherine said. “Playing the game not only put their skills to practical use, but helped them develop the concept of teamwork.” (Hill 2018)
The coaches have observed increased improvement in everyone’s speed and precision on the ice as the year progressed. The positive development being made in the players’ physical abilities and character on and off the ice attests to the success of this program.
Aimee said, "It was wonderful to see people overcome adversity and strive for advancement. The guys proved that with a positive attitude; anything is possible." (Doyle 2018)
For some, it’s a new life experience that fulfills life-long goals of conquering milestones by doing things that challenge them, their abilities and disabilities. "Sledge hockey fulfilled my dream of playing hockey,” Kyle R asserts his achievements of learning this sport. (Kyle.R 2018)
Players are anticipating the upcoming season’s start in October to continue the enjoyment of playing and learning in a friendly, supportive atmosphere. "I'm looking forward to playing again next year!" Chris S states. (Chris.S 2018)
And at the centre ice, it’s all about having fun.
Doug Balfour (‘17)
Andrew Demidoff (’18)
Chris Drake (’18)
Dillon Hendy (‘18)
Jeffery Humber (’18)
Angela Kehoe (’17)
Crystal Kelly (’17)
Scott Martin (‘17,’18)
Kevin McDougall (’17)
Bob McGrath (‘17,’18)
Jessica Miller (’17)
Katrina O’Hara (‘17,’18)
Jay Pedro (‘18)
Brad Proulx (‘17,’18)
Kyle Robillard (‘17,’18)
Chris Slade (‘17,’18)
Jason Thorpe (‘17,’18)
Trevor Foster – Head Coach
Aimee Doyle – Assistant Coach
Marc Girouard – Assistant Coach
Katherine Hill – Assistant Coach
Susie McKay – Assistant Coach
Gavin Bayliss – Bench Coach
Caleb Doyle – Junior Assistant
Cynthia Miller – Assistant Coach
Ethan Wright – Student Coach
Chris Young – Time Keeper
Originally named para ice hockey, this sport was designed in the early 1960s in Stockholm, Sweden to provide people with physical disabilities an opportunity to play ice hockey. (Sledge hockey 2018)
Canada formed their first sledge hockey team in 1982. (Sledge hockey 2018)
Currently, Hockey Canada oversees the men’s National Para Hockey Team (formerly Canada’s Sledge Hockey Team) (Hockey Canada 2018)
Women’s Sledge Hockey of Canada (WSHC) was formed in 2006 (Women's Sledge Hockey of Canada 2017)
In 1994, it became an official sport for the Paralympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway; Canada won the bronze medal that year. Canada won gold in the 2006 Paralympic Games in Torino, Italy and in this year’s 2018 Paralympic games, Canada won silver in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Hockey Canada 2018); (Hockey Canada 2018)
Doyle, Aimee. (April 2018).
Foster, Trevor. (April 2018).
Hill, Katherine. (April 2018).
Hockey Canada. 2017-2018 National Para Hockey Team. 2018. https://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/team-canada/men/sledge/2017-18 (accessed April 2018).
—. 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. 2018. (accessed April 2018).
—. National Para Hockey Team. 2018. https://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/team-canada/men/sledge (accessed April 2018).
M., Scott. (April 2018).
R., Kyle. (April 2018).
S., Chris. (April 2018).
Sledge hockey. March 21, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sledge_hockey.
Women's Sledge Hockey of Canada. History of the National Team. 2017.
https://www.canadianwomensledgehockey.com/history-of-the-national-team (accessed April 2018).