The following story by Dale was posted on his blog, the Lowe-Down:
As you may have heard me mention on the air last week, I was really looking forward to spending a couple of hours at the Evinrude Centre on Saturday. It marked the beginning of a brand new hockey season for the Kawartha Komets, a team that was created last year for kids with special needs in the Peterborough area, and once again this year I’ve volunteered to help both on and off the ice.
These are kids with a varying range of physical and developmental challenges…including autism and Aspergers Syndrome…which have made it unable for them to participate in existing organized hockey leagues. The Komets are members of Special Hockey International. There are no age groups. There are no tryouts. They don’t even need to be able to skate. All they need is what they already have…desire - - a desire to play hockey.
As I wrote in a blog entry last year, it’s been a remarkable experience for everyone involved:
- organizers David and Carol Fisher (who didn’t know what to expect when they first put the call out for players). Over 30 players have registered this year…enough for 2 Peterborough teams.
-proud parents who are witnessing their child participate in a team sport for the very first time. Last year, tears streamed down a mother’s face, as she said “I can’t believe this. I always wanted to be a Hockey Mom”.
- the helpers and volunteers who see the development of hockey skills and life skills with each passing week.
- and, of course, the players. There have been a few falls and tears along the way, but mostly it’s all smiles and “high fives”.
I knew there was going to be a little extra excitement at the rink on Saturday morning too.We had organized a press conference with local media, as former NHLer Steve Larmer was on hand to present the Kawartha Komets with 16 sets of brand new hockey equipment on behalf of the NHL Players Association’s “Goals and Dreams” initiative. It’s an amazing program that the NHLPA is quite proud of. I had a chance to talk to Steve about his journeys to remote northern locations to deliver hockey gear to kids who had none…including a trip up to Davis Inlet, where he was snowed in for 3 days! But, more importantly, that hockey equipment is being used…and now that kids have something to do, they’re staying out of trouble with the law in those remote communities.
Anyway, the Komets got suited up in their new gear for another season, and hit the ice for a practise. And, this isn’t your typical hockey practise. No whistles blaring. No commands being barked. Just 30 kids on the ice having fun, receiving one-on-one help if they need it, and most importantly, cheers and words of encouragement.
One more practise to go…before the Don Mills Diamonds come to town for a game Saturday, October 30th (10:15am) for a game against the Komets. If you live in the Peterborough area, I hope you can drop by the Evinrude Centre and cheer them on…AND witness hockey in perhaps its most purest form….simply being played for the love of the game.