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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Year of the Dragon and the Year of the Hockey Sled

Nicholas was born in 2000, the Chinese Year of the Dragon.  Yes, I know that Chinese (Vietnamese, Korean, etc.) New Year is a little later in our calendar year than Western New Year.

When I was pregnant, I painted a castle on his wall.  When I learned my baby would have spina bifida, I thought it was all very apropos because he would have many dragons to slay in his lifetime.  Maternal Fetal Surgery- dragon 1.  Birth and brief stay in NICU- dragon 2.  Detethering surgery- dragon 3. Shunt surgery- dragon 4. Laminotomy surgery- dragon 5.  That was before he turned one.  He learned to crawl, walk, and slayed dragons in many areas of his life.   He has had a few more surgeries stemming from his shunt, he has had some physical therapy issues, educational issues, social issues, and other dragons.

Guess what?  2012 will be the Year of the Dragon again!

This time, Nicholas is looking forward to meeting some great dragons this year.  First, the sled hockey team he started recently joined up with the Junior Reign Hockey Club (mascot?  Dragons, of course).

Nicholas' story is echoed in all of our athletes.  Some have been slaying dragons since birth, and others woke up in a hospital bed after a bad accident.  Spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, amputations, spina bifida, and other issues.  Those are diagnoses our athletes have endured.  Sometimes they become like labels.

I have another label:  Hockey player!

Practices of the Junior Reign Sled Hockey Team start on January 9 at Ice Town in Riverside, and all are welcome.  They will be every-other Monday after that.  We have seven sleds for Nicholas and his teammates to borrow, with more coming shortly, thanks to a recent jersey auction and other fundraisers and donations.  We have safety equipment for athletes to borrow as well.  Eventually, you might want to get your own helmet and equipment.  For now, you can simply use one of ours.  All you need to bring is....yourself.  Wear warm clothes in layers (you are going to an ice rink) and close-toed shoes such as tennis shoes.

The team has open-enrollment, so you can choose to join at any time.  Once you choose to join the team, you will need to join USA Hockey as a player as well.  The first year of USA Hockey membership is free for disabled players.  Tell your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. about it.  This is the first sled hockey program in Southern California, so by joining it, you are part of sled hockey history.

2012 is already shaping up to be the Year of the Dragon, indeed!

For more information, go here, or e-mail

Other News:
Don't forget the clinic in Oxnard on January 28 and the clinic in Bakersfield on January 29.  Contact Rhonda at for more info on the Oxnard clinic, and Scott at for the Bakersfield clinic.  These are coming up quickly, so mark your calendar now and make plans to be there!  Pre-registration at the clinics is not mandatory, but it is suggested, since it will streamline the amount of time it takes you to get out on the ice on the day of the event.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sled Hockey Night at Ontario Reign Game

First, before you read about our sled hockey night, can you do us a favor?  Can you go to this page on Facebook and vote for Todd J.'s video under "Health and Fitness?"  If we win, it means $10,000 for our sled hockey team.  Vote daily from now until December 30, and please pass this info along to your friends, family, and co-workers as well.

Now...on to sled hockey night at the Ontaior Reign game...

The newly minted Junior Reign Sled Team took to the ice on Saturday, December 10 during the first intermission of the Ontario Reign game.  Though the sledders hadn't been able to practice since September, they demonstrated what sled hockey was all about.  Elina, Nick, Josh, and Kyung-Moon from the Junior Reign team, and Brock, Will, and Little Mel from the Junior Riptide team showed the crowd of 7,916 people what sled hockey was all about.

Above: Elina, being pushed by Tristian, Little Mel 
show off in front of the crowd.

This happened because a special donor, Byron Marquez, had set up a jersey auction to benefit the team. He is also a big supporter of the 66er's dance team, and he knows the struggles disabled people have had, especially physically disabled, in getting sports teams in the area.

Members of our sled team, plus our coach and the hockey 
director at Ice Town thank the donor with a plaque during 
the Ontario Reign game.  

Since there was going to be a jersey auction, the management of the Ontario Reign decided to have an on-ice demo with our sled team.  That would have been easy enough, except for the fact that we only had two sleds total.

Enter USA Hockey!  We had applied for a grant for five sleds for our team.  USA Hockey gives away several grants like that every year with the stipulation that the team will use the sleds sometime during the year.  We did not know about the jersey auction when we applied for the grant.  By providence, we got the grant just in time, and Randy Kwapis of Mobility Sports was gracious in getting the sleds made and shipped to us as soon as he humanly could.  We received the five sleds on Thursday, and the on-ice demo was on Saturday.  Yes, it was that close.

The Reign comped the sled hockey players tickets, and we all got to sit together as a team.  When the game started, the athletes and their families went downstairs to get ready for the on-ice demo.  Since the sleds were brand new, none of them had been pre-adjusted to the athletes' height.  We had each athlete use a borrowed helmet and borrowed gloves and elbow pads.  Two of the athletes had their own, but the rest had to borrow from the team's supply.

Members of the team and their parents sit together 
waiting for the time to go downstairs and get ready for 
the demo.

Luckily, it was "teddy bear toss" night.  That's where people bring stuffed animals to throw on the ice after the home team scores their first goal of the game.  The stuffed animals get donated to a charity.  In this case, the stuffed animals got donated to Toys for Tots.  A lot of hockey teams do this for a home game during the Christmas season.  Not only did Toys for Tots get a load of stuffed animals, since the goal was scored while we were getting ready, it bought us some time in getting ready.  Whew!
All lined up and waiting to get on the ice!

The team lined up at the Zamboni gate, and as soon as the bell sounded to end the period and the Ontario Reign and Las Vegas Wrangler players left the ice, our sled players got on.  The demo was short; it was only five minutes.  Apparently, there are strict rules for how long the intermissions can be, and the home team has to get all the on-ice demos and displays over, and get the Zamboni to finish resurfacing before the time is up.

Not only was the team on the ice, but they projected close 
ups on the jumbo-tron for the audience to see.  
This is a picture taken from the jumbo-tron's display.

The people cheered wildly for our players!  It was so encouraging to hear.

Not only did we have a great time, but we bring the team luck.  They beat the Las Vegas Wranglers 5-2.

The jersey auction happened after the game.  Players came out and people bid on the game-worn jersey off their backs-sweat and all.  Winners of the auction also got a pair of hockey socks, and some players had other items to throw into the auction such as Los Angeles Kings tickets, and a motor scooter.  The lowest winning bid was $450 and the highest winning bid was $3,000.

At the jersey auction after the game.

Also in the News:

The Oxnard Junior Riptide Sled Team had a float in the Camarillo Christmas Parade on December 10.  This event helped raise awareness of the program, and it helped elevate their profile in the community.  The team will be holding a free sled hockey clinic on Saturday, January 28.  Riding on the float was Kyung-Moon, Brock, and one member of the Junior Reign Sled Team, Nick.  They sat in sleds and waved to the crowd.  The weather was beautiful, and many people could be heard along the parade route saying things like, "Sled hockey?  What't that?" and, "I read about this in the paper," and "It looks like fun."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like....Sled Hockey!


In a word, that is what we have been. There are a lot of sled hockey events in the planning stages. Here is a schedule:

Saturday, December 10- Camarillo Christmas Parade- parade begins at 10:00 AM.  Come see the float to publicize the Junior Riptide Sled Team. For more information, contact Rhonda at

Saturday, December 10- Sled Hockey Night at the Ontario Reign game.  Some members of the Junior Reign Sled Team will be doing an on-ice demo during one of the intermissions, and the proceeds of a jersey auction will go to the Junior Reign Sled Team.  To buy tickets, go here, or contact Todd at  Loud Jumpy Kids, an organization that makes knot bracelets to help raise money for charity, will also be having a fundraiser that night to benefit the sled team. See their website here for more info.

Monday, January 9- Junior Reign's first practice 7:00-8:20 at Ice Town in Riverside.  We will have at least seven sleds available for you to borrow on a first-come, first-served basis.  We also have helmets and pads.  For directions to the rink, go here.  If you have questions, contact Todd at

Monday, January 23- Junior Reign practice, 7:00-8:20 at Ice Town in Riverside.  The team will practice every-other week on Monday nights from 7:00-8:20.

Saturday, January 28- Free Sled Hockey Clinic at Channel Islands Ice Center in Oxnard.  Check in begins at 12:30, and the athletes take the ice from 1:15-3:15.  Directions to the rink are here.   Any questions?  Contact Rhonda at .

Sunday, January 29- Free Sled Hockey Clinic at Bakersfield Ice Sports Center.  Times TBA.  Contact Scott at  for info.

Float building:
We have been working hard to build the float for the Camarillo Christmas Parade.  Well, the Waidmanns have been working hard, and we've pitched in here and there.

Here, Steven, Little Mel, Nick, and Brock paint the trailer white so it can resemble a hockey rink.

Here, Rhonda and her friend paint the hockey markings on the trailer while Todd and Lee cut plywood hockey stick decorations.

Here, Brock, Nick, and Sam paint the risers the sleds will sit on.

The float will be ready for the parade, and we've had so much fun making it!  I hope it brings a lot of publicity to the Oxnard program.

Breaking news:
Dave Davies has been named coach of the Junior Reign Sled Team!

Dave is on the left in the green shirt, standing with Nick, and Matt Dunaev, the hockey director of Ice Town.  They are excited to get the Junior Reign Sled Team started!  Matt has shown incredible leadership and insight in helping us get the program off the ground, and Dave, who is a level 4 USA Hockey coach, is excited to begin teaching our team the basics of sled hockey.

So, yes, busy.  That's the most appropriate word for us!