The family behind the creation of a sledge hockey program in Yellowknife hopes to expand into the world of adult sports.
Sharon Oldford has been promoting and developing the sport since her son, Riley, first tried it in 2011. Riley, who has cerebral palsy, starred in a CBC The National report late last year which has been viewed tens of thousands of times.
Around two-dozen people already come out to sledge hockey practices on Saturday mornings. This weekend, the program received a significant boost in the form of training for three new coaches.
Two-time Paralympian Derek Whitson and Canadian women’s national sledge hockey coach Tara Chisholm led the course, in which Sharon Oldford was a participant.
“It taught us how to run practices with multi-age, multi-skill level [participants] on the ice at the same time, and some of the fine detail. I didn’t have any training for sledge hockey and it’s a little different to ice hockey,” she told Cabin Radio.
“Sledges are a little different for people starting off, it is definitely a learning curve. More coaches allows us to run drills, get to kids, and help them develop skills in a fun way.”
Oldford’s next target is getting more adults into the sport.
“The big thing is to grow the program. We’d like to be able to have adults out playing as well. It’s about ice time and publicity,” she said.
Riley now runs a website for the program and the Oldfords are working to find more sledges. Currently, the 23 sledges used by the program fit a range of ages from five to adult, so more are needed to accommodate more adult players.
Both Riley and Sharon paid tribute to YK Minor Hockey’s support of sledge hockey in the city.
“We’ve got a lot more ice time from YK Minor Hockey,” said Riley. Mom Sharon added: “They are an amazing advocate and the reason we are where we are today.”
The Parasport Jumpstart fund provided the cash for Whitson and Chisholm to run their Yellowknife coaching course, as well as funding a youth training camp with Team Canada player Tyler McGregor last year.