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Sunday, October 7, 2012

40+ Days of Fun!


This is a photo from our very first practice on January 9.  We began with just 7 sleds and  all 7 were used.  We now have 20 sleds, and 18 registered athletes.

One of the goals of becoming an official Paralympic Sport Club is to have at least 40 days where your organization does something as an organization, or sends people to represent your organization in an official manner.  The Junior Reign Sled Hockey team made the goal of doing 40 activities that would count as such activities in 2012.  We are happy to say that we have surpassed that already, and it's only October!

First, we have already held 20 team practices at LA Kings Icetown.  We officially started our program on January 9, 2012, and we have faithfully held practices every other Monday ever since, even during the summer.  We have plans for at least 5 more practices this year, through December.

Those practices will be October 15, 29, November 12, 26, and December 10.

   

These two photos are from a recent practice. We now have equal numbers of kids and adults.  


In addition to those practices, we held the very first officially registered sled hockey game in California on June 9 at LA Kings Icetown.  For that game, we combined our U-18 players with some of Oxnard's U-18 players to form "Team SoCal."  We played against Oakland's players (all of them are U-18).  Special jerseys were made for the event, and even though Oakland's team beat us 2-1, we had a very fun time and realized the magnitude of what happened that night.  Oakland has asked us out for a rematch, so if we can squeeze that in before the end of the year, that will be one more day of activities; or, if we can't squeeze it in for 2012, it will go in our 2013 activities.

This is a photo from the very first registered game.  Notice the spiffy California jerseys.  
 
We also sent players to a few events outside of California.  We sent two athletes to the Disabled Hockey Festival in Dallas from April 13-15.  One of the members played as an added athlete on Florida's Space Coast Hurricanes team, and the other player played with the Dasa Blues team from St. Louis.  We have plans to send as many athletes as we can afford (and want to go) to the Disabled Hockey Festival in 2013 in Philadelphia, and we are currently fundraising to make this a reality.  In addition, we sent one player to USA Hockey's Sled Select Camp from July 7-12 in Buffalo, NY.  He has designs of one day being on the US National team, and we sent him so he could learn more intensively and also check out the competition and see how good he'll have to be to make it on the team.  

Clinics!  We had clinics this year at our rink (on July 21), at Oxnard's rink (on January 28 and July 13), at Bakersfield's rink (on January 29), and at Cathedral City's rink (on July 22).  The clinic at our rink, of course, was to increase exposure of sled hockey to our community, and to recruit new players.  That was covered in the Riverside Press Enterprise here.  We sent athletes and brought helmets and pads to the clinics at the other rinks so we could help them get their programs off the ground so we would have people to play.


These two photos are from our clinic in July.  USA Hockey sent out Jen Lee to help us conduct the clinic, along with 24 loaner sleds for that day.  

In addition, we have been very aggressive in getting the word out about sled hockey in Southern California.  In addition to speaking at the Riverside Optimists Club, and the Riverside Rotary Club, we also had publicity booths or passed out materials at the Ms. Wheelchair California competition in March, The Abilities Expo in April, the Spina Bifida Assn Walk and Roll Kickoff in July, The Inland Empire Disabilities Collaborative in September, the Loma Linda Veterans Assn. "Welcome Home" event in September, and the DisAbilities Sports Festival in October.

 
Our booth at the Inland Empire Disabilities Collaborative.
 
As a team, we also had a float in the Corona 4th of July Parade, and we had team members hand out stickers to the people attending the parade.  We thought 1,000 stickers would be plenty, but it turned out that we barely had enough to give stickers to a fraction of the attendees.  If we do it again next year, we'll need more items to hand out for sure!
The group, including Coach Dave and Coach Andrew, who came out for the Corona 4th of July Parade.
 


We also had a very special event where the San Bernardino Eagles Lodge hosted a bingo night in our honor, and our team got the proceeds.

Finally, we are sending one of our coaches to Orlando to USA Hockey's Sled Hockey Workshop on October 12-13.  We had plans to play at a Kings Game and a Phoenix Coyotes Game (against the Phoenix Coyotes Sled Hockey Team) before the year was up, but due to the NHL lockout, those plans are on hold for the time being.

So, now it's time to do the math!

20 practices + 5 upcoming practices + 1 game + 9 days of travel to sled hockey events for some of our players + 5 clinics + 8 publicity events + 1 parade + 1 Eagles fundraiser +  2 days of coaches training = at least 52 events we've either already done or plan to do in 2012.  So much for our 40 day goal!

   

Coming up in 2013, in addition to our practices and the Disabled Hockey Festival already mentioned above, we want to play at least one or two more games with Oakland's team, and play in a tournament with the team in Phoenix.  We hope the NHL and the Players Assn. will settle their differences so we can play at a Kings Game during an intermission.  We also plan to hold one or two clinics of our own, and help other emerging teams by helping them with their clinics as well.  Through it all, we plan to continue publicizing and grow our team so that we will have two or three fully functioning competitive teams (at least an kids team and an adults team, and maybe an extra less-competitive adults team for those who do not want to travel as much).  We hope to send two or more players to the 2013 Sled Select Camp.  We also know that other opportunities will come up and we'll tackle them as they come.  If 2012 has been a busy year, 2013 is shaping up to be even busier!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Annual Clinic and New Promo Video

Thanks to everyone who came out for our fourth annual public sled hockey clinic on July 21st! We didn't have as big a turnout this year, but there were a couple of other disabled sports events going on that day. We appreciate the efforts of Kellie Hays, our USA Hockey district rep; Jen Lee of the U.S. national sled team, for facilitating the clinic; former Kings players Daryl Evans and Craig Johnson for the support and laughs; and our players and coaches for giving it their all, as usual.

Here is our new promotional video for Junior Reign Sled Hockey, with footage from our recent clinic, practice sessions, and the June 9th game vs. Oakland. Pass it along!

video

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July, 2012-- Celebrate Freedom (by going to a free sled hockey event)

Some members of the Junior Reign sled hockey team participated in the Corona 4th of July parade.
July is a busy month for sled hockey in Southern California.  What better way to beat the heat than by going to the ice rink?



July 9- Junior Reign Sled Hockey team practice at LA Kings Icetown Riverside (10540 Magnolia, Riverside) from 7:00-8:30 PM

July 13- Free Sled Hockey Clinic at Channel Islands Ice (830 Wagon Wheel Rd. in Oxnard) from 1:15-3:30 PM

July 21- Free Sled Hockey Clinic at LA Kings Icetown Riverside (10540 Magnolia, Riverside) 3:00-5:00 PM.

July 22- Free Sled Hockey Clinic at Ice Castle (68600 Perez Rd, Cathedral City) 9:00-11:30 AM.

July 23- Sled Hockey Practice at LA Kings Icetown Riverside (10540 Magnolia, Riverside) 7:00-8:30 PM

July 28 Riptide Sled Hockey practice Channel Islands Ice (830 Wagon Wheel Rd, Oxnard) 1:15-3:30PM.


Go to one, two, or all of these events!



Here is the flyer for distribution for the July 21 event in Riverside.  If you want a PDF of this to pass around or attach, please e-mail TJenkins@JrReign.com.  Other flyers will be coming soon.  Spread the word. 







Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Game is On!

All the athletes and coaches.  SoCal athletes are in white, and NorCal are in black.


June 9, 2012.  That date will go into hockey history because the very first officially registered sled hockey game took place at LA Kings Icetown Riverside.

NorCal sent six kids out out (all from BORP's Oakland program), and SoCal sent seven (four from Riverside's Junior Reign program, and three from Oxnard's Riptide program).  In addition, two standing goalies from the Junior Reign's standing squirts team volunteered to be the goaltenders. 

The teams met over pizza at Straw Hat down the street from the rink before the game.  There, they got to meet the kids from the other teams and size up their opponents.  Some played video games together.  Competitors on ice, friends off ice, right?

At the rink, special jerseys were handed to the teams.  SoCal took the white jerseys and NorCal took the black ones.  The jerseys had a logo designed by USA Hockey's Norman Hayward on them to commemorate this special event.
Nick sports the special jersey as he's getting into his sled.
The jerseys were a unique memento the kids will be able to keep and show their grandchildren one day.  "I was in the very first sled hockey game ever played in California..."


The players warmed up, and, after the National Anthem, the game was on.  It took a  little while for the kids to get the hang of playing an actual game, since both teams had only ever scrimmaged against teammates.  It's different when you play against another team.  Soon, they found their sweet spots, and the game was on!

Faceoff!  Getting ready for the puck drop.


Sled hockey has 15 minute periods rather than the usual 20 minutes for stand up hockey.  Sled hockey is a lot more tiring physically, since the arms are in charge of mobility and hitting the puck.  It takes a lot more effort to chase down a puck when you have to chop at the ice with the end of your sticks to move.

Go get that puck!

The age range for the athletes in this game was eight to seventeen.

Hit that puck!

Hit that puck!


At the end of the first period, the score was 0-0.  After a quick break, the teams were at it again.    In the second period, Koda from NorCal scored a goal.  The crowd went wild.  There were about fifty people watching the game in the stands and around the rink.  Many were parents and siblings, but some extended relatives and friends were also watching this historic event.  Soon after, Koloa from SoCal tied up the game with his goal.

Goal!


In the third period, Zach from NorCal scored the game-clinching goal, and NorCal won 2-1.

After the game, athletes were all introduced, and Koda, Koloa, and Zach each got a "first goal" certificate and the puck they scored with. 

Everybody on NorCal's team got gold medals, and SoCal's team got sliver medals. 

NorCal's team sports their gold medals.
SoCal's team sports sliver medals.


It was a great night for sled hockey!  Congrats to all the athletes who woke up sore the next day because they pushed themselves.  Thanks to Coach Dave Davies, Coach Andrew Hodge, and Michael Davies from the Junior Reign along with Coach Trooper Johnson from BORP.  Thanks also to Matt Dunaev, the hockey director at LA Kings Icetown Riverside, and all the countless others who helped this event happen. 

Brock shows off his first ever sled hockey medal.
To find out more about sled hockey in SoCal, contact Todd at TJenkins@JrReign.com for the Riverside program, or Rhonda at VCSledHockey@Hotmail.com for the Oxnard team. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

So You Want to Start a Sled Hockey Team?

This is me putting the sleds together way back at our very first sled hockey clinic.  If I had only known then what I know now...


A couple of years ago, my son Nick saw some pictures a friend had sent me.  The pictures depicted her son playing sled hockey.  She lives in Wisconsin and we, of course, live in Southern California.  My son got very excited and begged, "Mom!  Can I play that?  It looks like so much fun!"  My son has faced his share of adversity of life, and I did want him to have a sport, so I told him I would do what I could. 

I started by calling the closest ice rink.  "Do you have sled hockey?  No?  Do you know of any rinks in the area that have sled hockey?  No?  OK, I'll keep trying."

I called the next rink, and the next.  The script was the same.  Finally, e-mailed USA Hockey.  "Where, in Southern California, is there a sled hockey program?"  There response was, "There are no programs in Southern California.  Would you like to start one?"

That was the start of it all for us.  I wasn't totally sure I was the right person for the job.  I'm still not sure, to tell you the truth.  I have a lot of strikes against me.  First, I knew very little about hockey--sled or otherwise--at the time.  I have learned a lot over the past couple of years, but I recognize that I am still no expert.  Second, I had no idea how to organize a sports program.  Third, I don't even ice skate.

I had some things going for me, though.  First, I really wanted to see this happen.  My son has been frustrated about finding an appropriate sport in our area.  Wheelchair basketball is fun, but the local team doesn't take kids.  Other team sports are geared toward developmentally disabled kids.  There is nothing wrong with programs for developmentally disabled kids; in fact, they need even more sports opportunities than are currently offered.  Still, kids whose disabilities are primarily developmental have very different needs and adaptations in sports programs than kids whose disabilities are primarily physical.  Since I really wanted sled hockey to happen here, because I really wanted my son to have a sport, I would count that as an advantage.

Second, though I didn't have a lot of ties to the hockey community, I had some experience in organizing, developing, and creating things.  For instance, when I was frustrated with our church's Vacation Bible School, my husband and I created an entire VBS curriculum, including music, and organized the program and volunteers.  In fact, we did that twice in two different years.  In addition, my husband and I had written two musicals, and directed one of the two.  To be honest, our venture in directing the musical had mixed results, but the important thing is that we did it, and we learned a lot from the experience.  Also, my husband had coached my younger son's soccer team, and in a different season I had been a team mom for my younger son's soccer team.

Third, my husband was on board with helping.  I knew that at certain times of the year he would need to spearhead most everything, depending on how busy I would be.  We work as a team, and it helps to have each other to bounce ideas off of and pick up the slack when someone cannot finish the job.

Also, though I had not been very involved in hockey per se, I had experience with sports.  I had played soccer as a young girl, and had been on the swimming team through high school. My dad was a high school football and track coach.  I learned a lot about athletics and managing a team from him.  He and my mom live fairly close, and I still talk to him about some of the things happening with the program and ask for advice.  One of my favorite moments was when I was speaking with an athlete from a sled hockey team in another state.  The athlete was discussing how the team had some players from the US National Sled Hockey Team as its members.  I mentioned that it's pretty awesome to have such great talent on the team, but it's also a difficulty in some ways.  Why?  The coach feels pressure to always play the very best members of the team in order to help the team win, but if the other players who aren't National Team caliber get very little ice time, then they will never develop as athletes, and the team will flounder in the future.  It has to be a balancing act.  The sled hockey player said, "You know, you're right."  I was so proud of my dad at that moment, because that idea is something I learned from him.  

Our team has gone from nothing to a full-fledged program with fifteen athletes.  We're trying to continue to recruit for both a kids and an adults team. 


So, you want to start a sled hockey team?  It's going to be a very wild ride, and it's going to take dedication and perhaps craziness like you've never experienced.  You have to consider the following things:

1. Do you have the time?  Some weeks and months, we spend a lot of time on sled hockey.  Other weeks and months, we don't need to spend as much time.  This job can take twenty or more hours in some weeks, and it's a volunteer position.  You have to be honest with yourself.  If you honestly don't think you have the time to put out for this, you can find a partner or committee, and you can also get the ball rolling and then hand it off when the time is right.  There are options, but you still need to figure out if you have the time in the first place.

2. Do you care enough?  Some weeks, you will be sitting on top of the world.  You'll have every sled full, you'll have donations and grants, you'll have athletes happy with the program, all the stars will align with the planets, and there will be harmony.  Then, there are the other times.  You will feel used.  You will feel like you aren't valued.  You will feel like you are the only person in the whole organization who has this vision.  If you don't care enough, those times will burn you out.  In fact, even if you do care enough, those weeks might still burn you out.  If you sense the frustration in my voice as I write this, you are right.  This week has been one of those weeks where the bottom has dropped out, and there have been moments where both my husband and I have thought about throwing in the towel.  What has kept us on?  We really, really want this to happen.  We really, really want this program to move forward.  We really, really want not just our son, but the other athletes we have grown to love, to have a sled hockey team.  If you are the type of person who will let adversity come between you and your dream, you are not the person for the job.


3. Are you willing to be uncomfortable?  In the past year, my husband and I have done several things that we do not necessarily consider enjoyable.  We have spoken in front of local service clubs at their meetings (such as the Optimists, the Eagles, Kiwanis, etc.).  We have approached complete strangers with flyers and business cards.  We have filled out grant applications.  We have sat in on coaches meetings and board meetings (and I am not a "meeting person.")  We have driven hundreds of miles in the name of sled hockey, often with duffel bags of elbow pads on our laps.  We have made some unpopular and uncomfortable decisions regarding volunteers.  We have loaded our van in such a way that any Jenga champion would be in awe.  We have spoken with reporters.  Plus, we have been praised. Sometimes praise makes me uncomfortable, too.

So if you have the time, you care enough, and you are willing to put yourself "out there" in uncomfortable situations, you might just have what it takes to start a program.  If you are still interested, here is where you should start.

This is sometimes how starting a sled hockey program will make you feel.  You'll have tons of responsibility, and way too much work.  You'll have to be crazy to take this on...but then again, maybe you're just crazy enough to pull it off!


 A. Start with USA Hockey.  

They have some good resources for sled hockey.  They have a sled lending program where you can get twelve and sometimes twenty-four sleds sent to your local rink for a weekend so you can generate interest and get a list of people who would be willing to join a team.  The sled lending program is popular, so you might have to be flexible with the dates, and you might need to get them for your second or third choice of dates.  In addition, USA Hockey has regional and local directors who have helped get other teams started.  They have lots of wisdom and ideas.  Our regional director helped us get 501c3 (tax exempt) status by giving us good ideas and advice.

The loaner sleds USA Hockey sends out for sled hockey clinics.

B. Find a local rink that has supportive and helpful people.  

We had a couple of false starts with this.  It took us two false starts, and finally on our third rink, we have found a good match.  The hockey director at our rink is great, and we have to give him a lot of credit for the success of our program.  He has a lot of valuable experience, and he has helped us to manage the cost of ice time versus the amount of money our program actually has.  Finding a rink that will be helpful and not hinder your program is important.  (Some of the missteps we have encountered with the other rinks have included not having open lines of communication between you and your rink manager/hockey director, etc, and finding a rink that has restrooms that aren't accessible.)
Our coach and hockey director pose with my son.

C. Find other successful sled hockey organizers, managers, administrators, and coaches. 

I cannot tell you how many brains I have picked in order to get this program off the ground.  Countless.  There are many successful sled hockey programs around the United States these days. Honestly, you don't have time to make all the mistakes there are to make, so it's important to learn from the mistakes other people have made.  From most of the people I have encountered, the sled hockey community is extremely nice and helpful.  You can find out great ideas for raising money.  You can find great ideas for team building activities and things that will raise your team's profile in the community.  (I brushed the raising profile advice off in the beginning, and I have only recently come to understand how important it is.  The more people who know that we're here, the more athletes, volunteers, and financial support we get.  It's as simple as that.)

Dave Nicholls, from Utah's Golden Eagles has been an extremely great help to us, as have the people from Colorado's sled hockey programs, Sacramento's, an able-bodied hockey director in Boston, and many others.


D. Get used to begging for money fundraising.  

Basic team sleds cost $600-$700, and a pair of basic sticks costs $45, plus shipping.  If you want a team, you will need thousands of dollars of equipment.  Different teams do things differently, but many teams have some equipment such as helmets and basic pads for new athletes to borrow so they can try the sport out.  Depending on the details of the agreement you have with your rink, ice time costs a lot of money.  In some cases, it's upwards of $300-$350 an hour (it is in California, where we are).  Once your team gets good enough, you will have travel expenses, repairs, "office costs" such as printing flyers and postage, and many other things that cost money.  I cannot think of a single sled hockey program that is not constantly going from fundraiser to fundraiser, looking at grant opportunities, and seeking sponsorships.  It was an uncomfortable thing for me to do, but I have gotten more used to it.

Look what we got!  Equipment for our team! 


So, you still want to start a sled hockey team?  If you are still reading, you might just be motivated and crazy enough to do this.  Good luck! 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

California Invitational

June 9 is the California Invitational Sled Hockey....eh...tournament?  games?  time?  Shoot, I don't know what to call it, so let's just stick with "California Invitational."



Here is the deal.  If you are playing sled hockey in California, you are probably affiliated with one of the following programs:
The Sacramento Lightning (who actually play in Roseville, near Sacramento)
BORP (Bay Area Outreach and Recreation in Berkeley)
The Junior Reign in Riverside
The Riptide in Oxnard (just starting up)
Bakersfield (just starting up)

There are a few inklings here and there of other rinks and other disabled athlete programs in the state hoping to get sled hockey going, and I hope they succeed, but this is what we have for now.

With three programs going strong (the Lightning, BORP, and the Junior Reign), and two other teams who are getting sleds and will be going strong shortly, it's time.  Yes, it's time.

Time for what?  Time to make a mark for sled hockey in California.  We're starting small.  This first California Invitational will focus on U-18 players.  It will take place at IceTown in Riverside on June 9 in the evening. Since teams might not be able to send a full U-18 team, players will be combined to form full teams as they register.

In order to play at the California Invitational, players will need to be registered with USA Hockey and with one of the programs in California.  Players will also need to have the following gear: a sled, a pair of sticks, a helmet with a full face cage, shoulder pads, shin guards, elbow pads, gloves, and either hockey boots or sturdy closed-toed shoes.

For information on how to register, contact Todd Jenkins at TJenkins@JrReign.com.

We are also looking for sponsors to help with the costs of the California Invitational.  The costs are minimal, but include awards for the kids who play, jerseys for participants, food for the athletes before the event, and discounted accessible lodging for the athletes coming in from out-of-town.  If you are interested in providing sponsorship, contact Todd Jenkins at TJenkins@JrReign.com for how we can help make your sponsorship a win-win situation.  

Saturday, March 31, 2012

About Sled Hockey in Southern California



You might have received a flyer about sled hockey from the Ability Expo in Los Angeles.  We could not afford or secure a booth before the event, but we did go and pass out flyers to the attendees who went on Friday.  We were also able to leave some flyers at The Amputee Connection booth, the NAPA Center booth, and The Triumph Foundation booth.  Thanks to those organizations for allowing us to use your booth space for our flyers.

If you are curious about sled hockey in Southern California, there are four programs at differing levels of organization.
Riverside
Oxnard
Bakersfield
San Diego



The Riverside team is called the Junior Reign Sled Hockey Team, and it has practices every other Monday at IceTown (10540 Magnolia).  The next practices are April 2,  16, 30, and May 14 and 28.  The team currently has 13 sleds and gloves, helmets, and elbow pads to borrow.  The team accepts athletes ages 5 and up, and most of the current athletes are adults (although we do have some children).  It is free to come to Riverside and try out a sled to see if you will like it.  Come on out and you can borrow a sled, sticks, and pads.  After the first practice, if you decide to join the team, there is a $25 monthly fee to help pay for ice time.  If you want more information about the Junior Reign Sled Hockey Team, contact Todd at TJenkins@JrReign.com



The Oxnard team is the Riptide Sled Hockey team, and it is just starting up.  In fact, their first practice is April 7, and the next one is April 14. (Note the change in date.  Previously, it the first practice was April 4, but because of shipping problems with their new sleds, they moved the first practice back to April 7.)  They are in the process of fundraising for more sleds and ice time.  They practice at the Channel Islands Ice Center.  If you have questions about the Riptide Sled Hockey Team, contact Rhonda at VCSledHockey@hotmail.com.

The Bakersfield team is under development.  They had a clinic in January and have very limited equipment.  If you live close enough to Bakersfield to practice there, you could get in on the ground floor of the team.  When they are ready, they will be affiliated with Bakersfield Ice Sports Center.  If you would like more information about the Bakersfield program, contact Scott at SHay@bakersfieldicesports.com.  You could also contact Brian Rathfelder on Facebook for information.

The San Diego team is perhaps the least developed.  They have had some clinics and are busy raising support. We are hoping they will be able to have an event soon, and we will keep you posted on the next event they have.  If you would like more information about the San Diego program, contact TJenkins@JrReign.com and he will get you in touch with the right people.

Sled hockey is a very fun sport that allows athletes to get out of their wheelchairs.  We are very proud of all of the programs in Southern California.  We hope you can find a program that will be right for you.

FYI- we are also on Facebook.  You can join the group SoCalSledHockey, and/or you can also join the groups for Junior Reign Sled Hockey Team and Riptide Sled Hockey Team.  Click on the links and they will take you to those group pages.  You can also follow us on Twitter: SoCalSledHockey.  This is a good way to find out information about upcoming events. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oxnard Team Kicks Off on April 4

"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle."-Martin Luther King, Jr.


April 4...April 4...April 4... why does that date sound so familiar?  
Let's see...

On April 4, 1581, Sir Francis Drake finished circumnavigating the globe.
On April 4, 1841 William Henry Harrison died from pneumonia, the first US President to die in office.
On April 4, 1917, the US Senate voted 90-6 to enter World War I.
On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth's record.

No. Those are important events, but they don't ring a bell.  What I remember about April 4 is the U2 lyrics from Pride (In the Name of Love)

Early morning, April 4/Shot rings out in the Memphis sky/Free at last, they took your life/they could not take your pride.

Those lyrics were written to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, and that song has burned April 4 permanently into my brain.

Now, here's another reason to remember April 4 (if you read the headline to this post, you already know):

Drum roll please....

April 4 is the very first practice of the Riptide Sled Hockey Team.  They practice in Oxnard at Channel Islands Ice Center, the same rink where the clinic was held in January.  There is a map to the ice rink on the side of the screen.

The practice begins with a warm up at 12:45PM, and the team will hit the ice from 1:15-2:15.  Athletes need to bring their own hockey helmets.  Those who don't have helmets can purchase one from the rink.  Athletes do not have to pre-register, but it would be helpful to get a head count ahead of time (and make sure there is a sled available for you).  Contact VCSledHockey@hotmail.com to pre-register or to ask any questions.

Yay!  Applause! Fireworks!



This has been a labor of love for Mel and Rhonda Waidmann, who have been tirelessly working on getting this team started for many months.  They have held car washes and fundraisers at restaurants (where the team gets a percentage of the proceeds from the sales for a particular night).  They have gathered donations from businesses and individuals, and they have coordinated with the director of the ice rink.  It's not easy, yet they have done it all with gracefulness and unyielding energy.  They finally had gathered enough money to order their first sleds for their team.

There is a lot of work ahead for the Riptide Sled Hockey Team, but the Waidmanns and their friends and family can take pride in how far they have come so quickly.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. once wisely said, "Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase."  There will be more battles to fight, more hills to climb, and more cars to wash.  Let this be the first of many practices and the first of many sled orders.

Another thing King said was, "Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better." Those of you who have worked to make the Riptide Sled Hockey team happen, my hat is off to you.  You are making this world a better place, one hockey stick at a time.



Meanwhile, the Junior Reign Sled Hockey team has been practicing at Ice Town in Riverside every other Monday night at 7PM. They just got a shipment of three more sleds, so they are making room for you. The next practices are March 19, April 2, April 16, April 30, and May 7. The first practice is free, so come try it out. Sleds and equipment are available for you to borrow.  You do not need to pre-register, just come out and get in a sled.  Sleds are first-come, first-served, and, if there aren't enough sleds, athletes who are physically disabled get the sleds before athletes who are not physically disabled.



...and, since some of you now have the song in your head, let me end with this video.  






Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Day in the Life...

Limitations.  Doing things differently.  Taking twice or three-times as long just to get dressed in the morning. Stairs? ...I'll take the ramp, thank you.  Oops, the ramp is blocked with a trash can.  Doctor.  Co-pay.  Catheters.  Weakness.  Everything is too high, and I can't reach it in this chair.  Hey!  Please talk to me like I'm intelligent enough.  Stress.  Pain.  Stretching muscles.  Need to use the bathroom.  Oops, the wheelchair stall is taken.  Yes, I'm happy to hear about your grandma's neighbor's co-worker who used a wheelchair when he had a broken leg.  Need big parking space to unload chair.  Oops, all disabled spots are taken.  Need help.  Feel helpless.  No, no, I feel strong.  I'm strong--at least I think I'm strong.

Those are typical things many of our athletes deal with on a daily basis.

Then, when they get to the ice rink, everything changes.


Hockey gear.  I can do this.  Out of chair, into sled.  Ice.  Freedom.  Gliding along.  Falling over and getting up on my own.  Strategy.  Skills.  Faster!  Faster!  Faster!  Around the cones.  Score a goal.  Try again.  Score again.  I am better than I was at last practice.  I'm improving.  Yay!  My team relies on me. I can make this shot.  I am important.  I am an athlete.  People watch  me in the stands.  People cheer for me.  I am excited.  They are excited.  Teammate needs help.  I can help.  I worked so hard, I wore myself out.  Sweat.  Thirsty.  Worked so hard I didn't even notice the cold.  Need to take a shower.  It's a good tired.  Can't wait to come back.  I know I am strong!

We're not here!  We're playing sled hockey!


If you're wondering what a practice is like, take a peek!

7:00 PM- get to Ice Town in Riverside.  Sled hockey gear is being hauled inside.  I help by hauling a bag and a sled.

7:10 PM-I get my gear and helmet on.  If I don't have my own gear, I can borrow a helmet, elbow pads, and gloves from the sled hockey team.  They have extras.


7:20 PM- I get situated in my sled and strapped in.  If I don't have my own sled, the team has some team sleds to lend me.
7:30 PM- I get out on the ice.  Warm up.  Coach Dave runs me through drills and scrimmages.  I learn several things and I improve my skills.




8:15-8:20- I get off the ice, tired.  I get out of my sled, get my gear off, and say my good-byes.  It was a good practice.  Can't wait to come back.

The next morning-I wake up and I'm a little sore, but it's a good feeling because I know I worked hard last night.

Below is a JPG of a flyer for the Junior Reign Sled Team.  Click on it to save it to your computer.  Come on out...and share this with your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc... That's why there are 2 flyers together.  One is for you, and the other is for....




Monday, January 30, 2012

Successful Clinics Help Launch 2 New Programs

Raise your hand if you got in a hockey sled at the Oxnard or Bakersfield clinics the last weekend of January?  More than 50 people are raising their hands!



Thanks to the tireless efforts of Kellie Hays, along with countless other people from USA Hockey and both cities, the clinics were very successful.

Kellie brought Ahmad Karimzada and Tom Lopeman from the Phoenix Coyotes Sled Team to help conduct the clinic.  Both Ahmad and Tom are double amputees, and Ahmad was previously on the US National Sled Hockey Team.  Kay Robertson, longtime sled hockey booster at all levels, including the US National Team also helped out at both clinics.


The weekend started in Oxnard at Channel Islands Ice Center (CIIC) on Saturday, January 28.  A crew of volunteers helped 31 people try out sled hockey.  Mel and Rhonda Waidmann spearheaded the sled hockey clinic.  This was the first clinic for CIIC and they plan to form a sled hockey team from the momentum generated from the clinic.  Their team will be part of the Riptide Hockey program.  The participants ranged in ages, but the majority of the participants at this clinic were children.  One of the volunteers was a physical therapist who brought straps for participants' legs, and those worked better than the usual tape.  In addition to the clinic, the rink provided grilled hamburgers and hot dogs to all the participants.  There was a raffle for a $50 and a $10 gift certificate as a fundraiser to start the team as well.  Contact VCSledHockey@hotmail.com for more information about the Oxnard program.




After the clinic was over, the sleds, sticks, clinicians, and gear were trucked the 120 miles over to Bakersfield.  The clinicians and volunteers enjoyed an ECHL hockey game (the Bakersfield Condors vs. The Ontario Reign) and tried to relax before the next clinic the next day.



On Sunday, January 29, the clinic was at Bakersfield Ice Sports Center, a beautiful facility behind Rabobank Arena.  More than 22 people got in a sled there, and the general consensus from the athletes seemed to be positive.  Many were figuring out how they could buy sleds and form a team.  At this clinic, although participants were young and old, the majority of the participants were adults. The mascot of Bakersfield's ECHL team, Colonel Claw'd also showed up for the event.  The rink provided a pizza lunch for all the hungry participants.  For more information on this budding program, contact shay@bakersfieldicesports.com.


Todd and Christie Jenkins from the Junior Reign Sled Hockey Team in Riverside brought helmets, elbow pads, and gloves along to both clinics so the participants could be safe.

It was a great weekend for sled hockey in Southern California! Stay in touch for the most recent developments on those two fledgling programs.  With turnouts like those, they will be flourishing programs in no time!



In other News:


The Junior Reign Sled Team will hold it's next practices on February 6 and 20 at 7:00 PM. For more information, e-mail Todd at TJenkins@JrReign.com.

Also, flyers were finally  made for the Junior Reign Sled Team, and for an electronic (.PDF) version of the flyer, send a request to Todd at the e-mail address above.  The flyers come two to a page and are in color, although they will print out black and white as well.  You can print them or attach them to e-mails to friends you know who might be interested.