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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DisAbility Sports Festival

This Saturday, October 2 is the annual DisAbility Sports Festival at Cal State University.

I highly recommend you go to it if you are in the area. It's free, and it will give you a great overview of sporting options for persons with disabilities. They have everything from wheelchair basketball to handcycling to beep baseball to adaptive martial arts, to kayaking and many more options.

It starts at 8:00 AM and ends at 4:00 PM, although you can come and go at any time during that. The sports are hands on, so you get to try out each sport.

If you go, be sure to stop by the sled hockey booth an introduce yourself. Since the university does not have an ice rink, we will not be demonstrating sled hockey. But, we will have a table with some flyers, a sled, pictures, etc.

Click here to find out more about it.

We have gone the past two years and it has been a blast. Kids and adults will find plenty to do there.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Sled hockey's novelty is both its blessing and its curse.  I have probably talked to over 100 people who have never heard of sled hockey.  I explain what it is, and I get a number of reactions.  

Several people have said things like, "Wow, I never knew that existed."  It can peak interest from people who might otherwise dismiss something more mundane such as a new soccer or baseball team.  Learning about sled hockey makes people think they know a secret, like they're in the know.  Not only does it get their attention, but the novelty can also make them allies in spreading the word.  

I've had a lot of people say, "Can I come out and play, even if I'm not disabled?"  or "My cousin was in a car accident two years ago.  Do you think he's disabled enough to be on your team."

The day before our last clinic, I talked with a family who had a teenage son in a wheelchair.  They seemed interested in coming and trying the sport.  But the mom dropped a clinker.  "You don't want my son to come out.  He has violent tendencies."  I tried to keep a deadpan face as I replied, "It's hockey.  We'll put him on offense."  They came out and he had a great time getting out on the ice for the first time in his life.

I have also encountered a number of negative reactions due to sled hockey's novelty.  

For instance, I took flyers to a physical therapy office a few month back and tried to explain the sport to the receptionist behind the desk.  The receptionist said, "Well, I'm from Wisconsin where hockey is big, and I've never heard of sled hockey."  He dismissed me and refused to take any flyers for his office.

Others have dismissed it as a fad sport.  Some don't want to get involved in a sport that could dry up and blow away (in their eyes, anyway) in a year or two while supporters are left holding a big bill from an ice rink and some used, sweaty elbow pads to occupy the free space in their garage.  They wave their hands, and with a simple, "No thanks," they dismiss us. 

It behooves us to not dismiss such people as quickly as they dismiss us.  When I was passing out flyers for our very first clinic, I gave them to co-workers saying, "If you know anyone in your family or circle of friends who is disabled, please tell them about this clinic."  Many co-workers were excited, while others probably took the flyers out of obligation.

One co-worker, however, said, "I don't have any friends.  Don't give me any flyers."  She was fairly rude and short when she said this, and I was taken aback about it.

When we did our next clinic, I was casually discussing our efforts in getting the word out before a meeting.  This same co-worker said, "Sled hockey?  Wow!  I've never heard of it!  I'm impressed.  Give me some flyers, because I know plenty of people I can invite."  I tried not to be smug as I handed her a stack of flyers.  "Welcome to the light side.  May the force be with you," I thought to myself.  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sled Hockey Programs in the United States

I'm probably missing some, but this is what I came up with. If you see any errors, let me know. Most of these have links to the team's site or the hosting organization's site. Click on them for more information.

Alabama- population 4,364,356
Thunderblades Sled Hockey-Lakeshore (Birmingham)
(Inactive, but Lakeshore has many cool adaptive sports programs, so I left the link up anyway.)

Photo above: Alaska Avalanche Sled Hockey Team

Alaska- population 634,892

Photo above: Phoenix Coyotes at practice.

Arizona-population 5,307,331
Coyotes- Phoenix

California- We've saved the best for last. California's entry is at the bottom of this entry.

Colorado-population 4,417,714
Bulldogs-Colorado Springs

Connecticut-population 3,425,074
Wolfpack- Bloomfield

Photo above: Delaware Snipers pose for team photo.

Delaware-population 796,165
Delaware Sled Snipers

Florida-population 16,396,515
Mapet Angels Sled Hockey-Coral Springs
Florida Eels Sled Hockey

Georgia-population 8,313,195
Georgia Sled Hockey Foundation-Marietta

Illinois-population 12,482,301
RIC Blackhawks Sled Hockey Team-Chicago
Chicago Hornets
Falcons Sled Hockey Team-Lake Forest- it doesn't look like they have sled hockey anymore, but they do have many adaptive sports programs, so I left the link up.

Photo above: The Turnstone Flyers in Indiana

Indiana-population 6,114,745
Turnstone Flyers- Fort Wayne
River City Rollers- South Bend

Iowa-population 2,923,179
Quad City Sled Hockey- Iowa

Maine-population 1,286,670
Northeast Passage
Portland Hockey Pirates (inactive)

Maryland-population 5,375,156
Bennett Blazers- Abington

Massachusetts-population 6,379,304
New England Bruins-Needham MA (inactive)
Baystate Sled Hockey
Northeast Passage

Photo above: A player on the Michigan Sled Dogs team.

Michigan-population 9,990,817
Michigan Sled Dogs
GR Sled Wings-Grand Rapids

Minnesota-population 4,972,294
Minnesota Sled Hockey Association

Photo above: The Dasa Blues from St. Louis.

Missouri-population 5,629,707
Dasa Blues- St. Louis

Montana-population 904,433
Flathead Valley Sled Hockey-Flathead

Eagle Mount-Great Falls (also on Facebook)

Nebraska-population 1,713,235
Nebraska Mammoths-Kearney

New England (Various)
Vets on Jets

New Hampshire-population 1,259,181
Northeast Passage Wildcats

New Jersey-population 8,484,431
United Spinal Youth Rangers-Woodbridge
South Jersey Wings of Steel- Doorhees
Vineland Sled Stars- Vineland

New York-population 19,011,378
Bethlehem Sled Hockey-Bethlehem
Long Island Roughriders
Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey
Albany (a youth team)
Jamestown Lakers

Ohio-population 11,373,541
Ohio Hockey Blades-Columbus
Cleveland Mighty Barons
Cincinnati Ice Breakers


Pennsylvania-population 12,287,150
Mighty Blaze- Erie
PA Center Pedes-Philadelphia
Atlantic Hammerheads- Willow Grove
Sitting Bulls-Johnstown

Tennessee-population 5,740,021
Nashville Predators Sled Team
Franklin Tennessee Knights (may be inactive)
Regulators (may be inactive)
Knoxville (may be inactive)

Photo above: The Austin Blades at practice.

Texas-population 21,325,018
Austin Blades
Dallas Sled Hawks (inactive, but this link leads to the Rise Adventures site, which has many cool adaptive sports to offer)
San Antonio Rampage

Utah-population 2,269,799
Golden Eagles-Park City

Vermont-population 613,090
Vermont Sled Cats

Virginia-population 7,187,734
Arlington Virginia- Looks like this team isn't practicing, currently

Seattle- in development

Washington DC-population 571,822
Capital District Sled Warriors

Wisconsin-population 5,401,906
Wisconsin Warriors-Milwaukee

Photo above: The Sacramento Lightning pose as a team.

California has a population of 34,501,130, and Southern California has 22,422,614 people, which alone is more than any other single state.

California fans and amateur hockey programs support three NHL teams and three ECHL teams, so the hockey programs in the state are strong. Yet SoCal Sled Hockey is the only team serving this huge population center. Please partner with us in bringing this great sport to Southern California!

Sled hockey programs currently in California:
Sacramento Lightning- scroll down a bit to find it

Photo above: SoCal Sled Hockey's first clinic way back in 2009. We've come a long way, and we have a long way to go.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Everyone Needs a Little Help

There are about one million people with disabilities in Southern California, and at least 100,000 of them primarily have mobility disorders. Sled hockey is a great sport to start here because there are so few sporting options for people with mobility disorders. Yes, there are challenge leagues that cater to persons with intellectual disorders, and, of course, there are the Special Olympics. Many people don't realize that there is a qualifying I.Q. for competing in the Special Olympics, and if your I.Q. is over the threshold, you do not get to compete.

I'm not knocking the Special Olympics. They are a great organization that does a lot of good for people. I have known people who have competed in them, and I have known family of some of the competitors as well. Everyone I ask has nothing but good things to say about the organization.

But, what sporting options are there if your intellect is intact, but your body doesn't work right? Many people injure their spinal cords in accidents each year. Many veterans are coming back with injuries or amputations. Many people are also born with things such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida that impair mobility but do not necessarily affect the intellect.

Yes, there is a smattering of sporting options for physically disabled persons around, but not many. Now, it's true that not every person with a mobility disorder will be interested in sports, just as not every able-bodied person is interested in joining a sports team. But, whether or not you're interested, you have that option if you are not disabled. You can always rest in the idea that you could join a sport if you really wanted to, and maybe someday you will want to. If you are disabled, however, you don't get that assurance.

You are repeatedly told your body is broken. You are humiliated by having to enter through the back door of restaurants and wheeling out into the street when there are no curb cutouts. Strangers make assumptions that if you cannot walk, you also must be stupid. Plus, many people doubt your disability ("Haha, I saw your legs move. You're faking it!" some people will say. The comeback? "A newborn baby can move its legs, too, but does that mean it can walk?")

A lot of people with physical disabilities want to compete in sports to keep their pride and show the world that although they are broken, they are not beaten.

SoCal Sled Hockey fills a need that is important, and it does small part in filling the hole created by the dearth of sports options in our area for the persons with mobility impairments.

We're in the process of raising money and raising awareness so we can resume our program. It was cut short due to lack of funds and lack of equipment. But, we hope to be holding regular practices and even games again in the Spring of 2011.

In the meantime, consider how you might be able to help. Maybe you can spread awareness by telling your friends about it. Maybe you can volunteer to come to the practices and/or the games to help out as a volunteer. Maybe you can donate some money or equipment to help us. Maybe you can point us in a direction for funding or volunteers that we didn't know about.

If you can help, contact us at

Saturday, September 4, 2010

US National Sled Hockey Team Named

The US National Sled Hockey team was announced last month for the 2010-2011 season. It includes 10 members of the gold medal winning team that went to the Vancouver Paralympics last winter. There are also 6 newcomers.

Here is the roster:

Steve Cash from Overland, MO (gold medalist)
Jen Yung Lee from San Antonio, TX (newcomer)

Tim Jones from Mt. Ephraim, NJ (gold medalist)
Taylor Lipsett from Mesquite, TX (gold medalist)
Adam Page from Lancaster, NY (gold medalist)
Alexi Salamone from Grand Island, NY (gold medalist)
Greg Shaw from Park City, UT (gold medalist)
Daniel McCoy from Cheswick, PA (newcomer)
Kevin McKee from Davenport, IA (newcomer, and he has played on the same team as our own Cody LaScala)
Danny McDevitt from Abington, PA (newcomer)
Rico Roman from San Antonio, TX (newcomer, and the first injured US Veteran to join the team.)

Taylor Chance from Hampton Falls, NH (gold medalist)
Jimmy Connoly from Galloway, NJ (gold medalist)
Nikko Landeros from Berthoud, CO (gold medalist)
Josh Pauls from South Plainfield, NJ (gold medalist)
Tyler Carron from Berthoud, CO (newcomer)

Head Coach: Ray Maluta
Assistant Coach: Bill Corbo, Jr.

Congrats guys and good luck! We hope that someday soon we will be able to put someone who hails from Southern California on that team.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Canadian Sled Hockey Legend Retires

Sled hockey news came this week as Canada's Todd Nicholson announced his retirement at age 41. He has been named among the world's top sled hockey players numerous times.

He has played in four Paralympic Games, including the most recent Vancouver Games in 2010. He was honored to be Canada's flag bearer during the opening ceremonies to the Torino Paralympics in 2006.

Back in 1987, Nicholson was driving home from the high school prom when he lost control of his car. That accident left him a paraplegic.

Sled hockey wasn't Todd's first adapted sport. He began playing wheelchair basketball for the Ottawa Royals. Nicholson said, "Ever since that day I have never been afraid to try anything once and I have been involved in sports to the highest possible level since."

Nicholson is married and the father of twin toddlers. When not competing in sports, he works for the Canadian Border Services Agency. He encourages others with his life motto: never give up on your dreams.

Here are some links to learn more about Nicholson

***Note*** Todd Nicholson has nothing to do with SoCal Sled Hockey, except for a shared love of the sport. We just thought it was interesting news to post on this website/blog.