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.
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.