Thursday, October 19, 2006

Strib article on MN Special Hockey

You can still view this article on the Strib's website:
Hockey players with disabilities get an assist
October 19, 2006 Star Tribune
Michael Rand

When Susie Miller tells people about Minnesota Special Hockey -- a program for hockey players with developmental disabilities -- they often don't believe her. It's not skepticism, but more of a giddy disbelief that such a thing now exists.

One parent asked, "Is this ice hockey?" (Yes). "For kids with developmental disabilities?" (Yes). "So my child, who has Down Syndrome, can play?" (Yes). And the kicker: "He's going to think he died and went to heaven."

Miller, for the City of Edina in its adaptive rec program, is a lead organizer of Minnesota Special Hockey. She and others started it in the spring, Miller said, when they found several other similar programs in cities around the country but none in the Twin Cities...

... Skaters as young as 4 and as old as 42 participated in the spring. The goal with a full season is to split into two teams of 25 skaters each, with one based in Edina and one in Blaine. Teams will practice starting in November and eventually play games against each other. Registration is $150, and organizers are working on getting a grant to pay for some of those costs. They also have sponsors on board to defray other costs.

"It's great seeing the smiles on the kids' faces," Miller said. "A lot of them have been going to their siblings' games for a long time. For it to be about them now, they love it."

Sam Cashin is a perfect example. He was the No. 1 fan of his older sister Lucy's teams, but the soon-to-be 14-year-old never played because he has a severe form of epilepsy. But Sam played in the spring and had a great time. This year, Lucy is going to be a volunteer.

"For him to go on the ice and have the girls watch him skate was wonderful," said Jane Cashin, Sam's mother. "It's a challenging thing physically and a wonderful learning experience."

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