A youngster works on his dangles during a sledge hockey open demonstration at the Kimberley Civic Centre this past Saturday.

A youngster works on his dangles during a sledge hockey open demonstration at the Kimberley Civic Centre this past Saturday.

Sledge hockey: All about what you can do

Kimberley Rotary Club hosted a large-scale sledge hockey tournament & open demonstration at Kimberley Civic Centre this past Saturday

The life of your local sports reporter is far from quiet, calm or boring, especially in communities as bustling and vibrant as Cranbrook and Kimberley.

During the fall and winter months, I have my regular beats — the Kootenay Ice, the Kimberley Dynamiters and Avalanche volleyball at College of the Rockies.

This past weekend afforded me the opportunity to visit an event not typical to my regular beat, but incredibly important nonetheless.

The Kimberley Rotary Sledge Hockey Tournament ran almost all Saturday long at the Kimberley Civic Centre, providing locals folks the opportunity to take in some highly competitive sledge matches between a variety of teams, coming from as far a Calgary and Kelowna, as well as from right at home.

Outside of formally scheduled tournament play, there was an open demonstration — an opportunity for folks to take to the ice in sleds owned by Kimberley Minor Hockey — that saw men, women and children strap themselves in and cruise around the Civic Centre ice.

With college volleyball also my slate for the afternoon, I passed on the opportunity to hit the ice — a rare thing for me to do.

While taking in the energy around the rink, I was privileged to speak with a number of Rotary Club members and folks involved with helping get sledge hockey off the ground, not only in Kimberley but in Canada.

The conversations I had were rewarding beyond words, but I do hope to share at least a bit of the wisdom I acquired on that chilly Saturday at the Civic Centre, because I truly believe it’s important.

First off, there’s a common misconception that sledge hockey is solely for the disabled.

That’s incorrect.

“It’s not about what you can’t do. It’s all about what you can do,” were the words shared.

Incredibly powerful.

Sledge hockey is intended to provide a competitive arena in which anyone — regardless of ability — can come together in the name of sport and play.

I was told a story of a little boy who, once upon a time, so desperately wanted to play hockey.

Afflicted with osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as brittle bone disease, playing ice hockey simply was not in the cards for this youngster. One wrong bump could mean immense pain and broken bones.

Then he discovered sledge hockey.

Upon strapping into his sled, the little boy cruised around the ice surface before making his way to centre ice and shouting, “I’m free!”

Sport has that power.

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to sledge hockey during my years at the University of Alberta. It was a fantastic experience and an incredible challenge that was truly rewarding.

A lot of people don’t realize the Civic Centre is fully equipped for sledge hockey.

A lot of people also don’t realize that the Kimberley Rotary Club raised $18,000 to purchase 12 sleds, which were then put in the care of Kimberley Minor Hockey  (KMH).

KMH cares for the equipment and anyone interested in using it is encouraged to contact KMH equipment manager Brian Anderson via email at cb.anderson@shaw.ca.

I’d encourage you to get in touch with KMH and give sledge hockey a try.

You won’t regret it.