Have you ever seen a hockey game? A rather rediculous question for most people. Even if you hate the sport, you've most likely seen how it is played. Now, imagine that you can't use your legs...how would you play? Simple, you play Sledge Hockey.
My best friend called me up last week and invited me out to help him score keep with him for a Sledge Hockey game at Chedoke Arena. I was happy to do it, but I had never heard of Sledge Hockey before, and had no idea that it was a 'handicapped' sport.
As we arrived at the arena, I noticed that there were quite a few 'handicapped' guys hanging around. Upon further investigation, I found that they were waiting for their ice time! I was dumbfounded, how do handicapped people play hockey? That question was soon answered.
One of the Directors of the Sledge Hockey league was kind enough so show us how things worked. He gave us a rule sheet, and showed us the 'Sledge'. If you haven't seen one, they're kind of hard to describe, but basically they're chairs without legs attached to skate blades. The players legs are strapped in, and they use 2 modified sticks (which are only about 6" long) with picks on the end to propell themselves down the ice.
Now, the ice surface they use is the same as any other ice rink, except the team bench and penalty box areas are actually on the ice (for obvious reasons). As I watched in amazement, these athletes (I wouldn't call them anything less) scoot around the ice with what seemed to be the greatest of ease, I was shocked to learn that there were acually some able bodied players on the teams as well! What other sport can you think of that would put both handicapped and able bodied players on the same level? I can imagine that it would be quite an upper body workout to do this for an hour, but these guys certainly seem to be enjoying themselves.
If you ever have a free Saturday afternoon, I would surely recommend that you head down to Chedoke Arena and watch these guys play. I promise that you've never seen anything like it, I sure haven't.
The Director of the league invited us back for their next game tomorrow to score keep, and to try out a Slegde for ourselves! I'm not sure that I'll be able to live up to the standard set by the players, but I'll sure try to at least stay right side up.