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Monday, September 12, 2011

Let's Raise Awareness and Raise Support...

On Sunday, September 4, we had our third free sled hockey clinic. The first one was in 2009 and about 40 people tried out sleds for the first time. The second one was in 2010, and about 100 athletes came out to play. Some of the people who came out in 2010 had come to our first clinic, but a lot of them were new to the sport. Finally, we just had our third clinic where about 80 people tried out sled hockey, and about 1/2 of those were returning athletes, while the other 1/2 were trying it out for the first time.

Obviously, it's a fantastic sport. When we get people coming out again and again to the sled hockey clinics we host, we know that they have caught the love of the sport in their hearts. When we get new athletes coming out to try the sport, we know that we have the potential to expand.

In this picture, Nick, the founder and visionary behind 
sled hockey in SoCal (in the red helmet), races to the puck 
against a person who is trying out the sport for the first time.  

Recently, I was discussing sled hockey in Southern California with a friend who lives in Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania is a large state with a little over 12 million people, and it supports somewhere between 3 and 5 sled hockey programs (three that I know of for sure, and two others that have been viable in the past, although I am not sure they are still running).  

In contrast, Southern California, at a little over 22 million people, has over twice the population that Pennsylvania has.  We have 2 NHL teams: the Ducks and the Kings.  Yet, we have only one sled hockey program, (this one), and it is trying hard to hold its head above water with sleds it borrows once a year for a clinic.  Currently, we have 20 child-sized helmets and 20 pairs of adult-sized gloves and elbow pads.  One of our athletes has his own sled, and another athlete has his own hockey gear (helmet, pads, and sticks, but no sled).  

Southern California should be able to support this sled hockey program!  In fact, if Pennsylvania is any example, Southern California should be able to support six to ten sled hockey teams.  

Southern California alone has more population than any other state in the union, including New York (a little over 19 million and two to four sled hockey programs), Illinois (a little over 12 million, and two to three sled hockey programs), and Texas (a little over 21 million and (two to three sled hockey programs).  

Call to Action

So, here is where I tell you how you can help.  There are four ways to help.  All of them are equally necessary.  You might be able to do two, three, or all four, and I'll bet you can do at least one of them!

Way 1-- You can help by donating a sled, ice time, or new equipment to this team.  Sleds cost about $700-$800 each.  Ice time is about $350 an hour.  Equipment varies in price.  Some people wouldn't have any problem writing a check for one of those amounts, or even just pitching in $20, $50, or $100 towards these items.

Way 2--You can help by donating used gear to our team.  We're not picky at this point.  We need larger helmets.  We need face cages.  We need smaller gloves and elbow pads.  We need other hockey gear as well.  Many people have garages full of the stuff because their kids played hockey at one time.  If it's still in good condition, we'll be happy to take it off your hands.  

Way 3-- You can help by getting a business, club, church group, etc. to donate a big-ticket item.  Since sleds cost between $700 and $800, if a group of twenty people donated about $40 each, the group could cover the cost of a hockey sled for our team.  If a group of ten people donated about $35 each, it would cover the cost of an hour of ice time for our team.  If a company has more employees than that, then the amount per employee goes down.  You get the picture, I'm sure.  

We have materials you can use to talk with such companies and groups about donating.  If you would like to get our letter asking for donations so you can take it to places of business in your area, just e-mail us at

In addition, groups of hockey teams may be able to donate a partial sheet of ice once-in-a-while.  If your hockey team could give up 1/3 or 1/2 of the ice occasionally so our sled hockey team has a place to practice, it would help us greatly.  

Way 4-- We need volunteers who are willing to help athletes get into sleds, help push some of the less-skilled or less-able athletes around on the ice, and perform various other tasks.  We are currently looking for coaches as well.  I do not want to downplay this because donating time is often more valuable than donating money.  

Think of the one, two, three, or four ways you can help kick-start sled hockey in Southern California!  

To inspire you to greatness, here is the video to our latest clinic on September 4.  I hope you count the smiles and realize that sled hockey is worth every penny and every second people invest in it.  When you decide you want to help, please e-mail Todd or Christie at

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Video from Last Sunday's Clinic

We had a great time at last Sunday's sled hockey clinic.  Somewhere between 60 and 80 people got out on the ice in sleds, including many people with physical disabilities, some siblings, friends, and family members (when you are all sitting in a sled, you are all equal), and some people with developmental disabilities.  About 2/3 of the participants were children and teens, while about 1/3 were adults.  Many of the people were trying out sled hockey for the very first time.  Here is a video we put together with footage and photos from the clinic.

Smiles and more smiles! Let's hope that soon enough we will have enough monetary support so that we can have more regular practices and events soon. If you have any ideas for raising support for our team, please contact us at  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sled Hockey Clinic on September 4

About 60 athletes got into sleds, many of them for the first time.  The clinic was held at Ice Town in Riverside.  It was sponsored by PossAbilities from Loma Linda University Medical Center and USA Hockey.  We had four clinicians: Rico Roman, forward from the US National Sled Team, Jen Yung Lee, goalie for the US National Sled Team. Dave Nicholls, goalie from the National Ability Center Golden Eagles sled team in Utah, and Kyung-Moon Shin from South Korea's National Team.  
                                             Above: Dave Nicholls gives a pep talk

                                              Above: Jen Yung Lee helps an athlete.

                                               Rico Roman gets going on the ice.

                                                 Kyung-Moon Shin shows how to play.

Many pictures are posted on Facebook's SoCal Sled Hockey page, so if you don't see the picture you love best here, check it out there.  

We had several volunteers come out, including a group of students from Western University, some players from KGGI's hockey team, along with Kellie Hayes and Charlie Furtch from USA Hockey.  They were so valuable!  We could not have pulled the clinic off without them!

Some of the more poignant moments from the afternoon are detailed below.  

Briget came to the clinic with her two daughters.  Though she uses a wheelchair, her daughters are able-bodied.  We were able to get all three of them on sleds so that the family could play together.  They had tons of fun out there and the clinicians even commented on how well all of them improved over the course of the afternoon.  

Sean was at the rink a week ago when we were tying up some loose ends to get ready for the clinic.  Hockey practice was going on, and we saw this kid who was walking around with forearm crutches.  We talked to him about the sled hockey clinic (it was coming up in a week when we saw him).  He happened to be at the rink because his brother is on a hockey team.  He was able to come to the clinic, and when he reluctantly got off the ice at the end of the clinic, he said, "This was the most fun I've ever had.  Ever."

Nicholas was the originator of sled hockey in Southern California.  After viewing some photos of a friend playing it in Wisconsin, he said, "That's the sport I want to play."  That was almost four years ago.  After trying to find a sled hockey program in Southern California and coming up empty, we started on of our own.  Nicholas was not only the inspiration, but he did a lot of the work.  He works tirelessly on publicity and fundraising.  He had a lot of fun at the clinic.  It was so nice to see him having a good time at the program he inspired.