For many Canadians young and old, weekends in the winter months involve time spent at the ice rink, where curling, ringette, figure skating and hockey are favourite pastimes. And Woolwich, a township featured on CTV’s “Hockeyville” challenge in 2009, is no exception — with the Woolwich Memorial Centre boasting two ice pads, there is plenty of room for skating enthusiasts.
Among those who enjoy the facilities at the WMC is a small group of about a dozen sledge hockey players; though they may not be able to skate, these determined athletes haven’t let that stop them from playing the game they love. The group, coached by Elmira resident Keith Metzger, meets for practice each Saturday evening from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
“A kid in a wheel chair wants to do all the things other kids want to do,” says Elaine Browne, whose 6-year-old son Nate is on the team for the first time this year. Though they live in Cambridge, Elaine and her husband John McCarthy bring Nate to Elmira for sledge hockey because they appreciate the dedication of the volunteers and the coach-to-player ratio.
“It’s a very warm supportive atmosphere here,” she said.
In sledge hockey, players move themselves across the rink with two custom-length sticks, which are also used for shooting. Because they are used for both pushing and puck-handling, the sticks are worn down quite quickly.
The Friends of Hockey, a local organization that sponsors young hockey and ringette players, recognizes the need for good-quality equipment. So as one of their projects this year, the foundation has donated 25 brand new pairs of sticks to the Woolwich Sledge Hockey.
“I didn’t know how I could help so I was really glad when Keith approached us,” said Friends of Hockey President Jim Radcliffe.
The presentation of the new equipment was made last Saturday evening at the WMC.
“I asked for 5 pairs of sticks and we got 25,” said Metzger. “They’re very generous.”
And he isn’t the only one who is excited about the donation.
“It’ll improve my game,” said team member Jason Menkveld. “Sledge hockey’s the best!”
For further information on how to get involved with/become a part of the team, contact coach Keith Metzger at 519-669-5289.