Saturday, May 17, 2014

Kawartha Komets Fulfilling Hockey Dreams

The following article appears in the May/June issue of Peterborough SportsXpress

Many thanks for Scott Cherwaty, publisher, for his encouragement and support of the Jack McGee Kawartha Komets.

Kawartha Komets Fulfilling Hockey Dreams - by Warren Smithson        

Five years ago, sitting in the stands watching the Opening Ceremonies of a Special Hockey International tournament, a mother caught a vision as to how her teenage son could fulfill his dream to play hockey.
Carol Fisher didn’t stand idly by.  This mother saw a need in her community not only for her own son but for other individuals who, for whatever reason, might not be able to play hockey in a regular hockey program.
After seeking wisdom, counsel and support from local hockey organizations and influential community leaders, Carol launched the Kawartha Komets Special Needs Hockey program in 2009.
Since the inception of the Komets dozens of players have participated with over 60 players, playing on four teams during the 2013/2104 season. The Kawartha Komets draw players from Peterborough and at least a dozen surrounding communities.
While reading an article about the challenges faced by some of the Komets players and the need for a Komets sponsor, another mother, Mary McGee, widow of a longtime sports enthusiast and businessman  Jack McGee, also caught Carol’s vision.  Mary, in honour of Jack, provided the team with a sponsorship for the past two seasons.
Carol’s vision to fulfill Matthew’s dream was quickly realized.  It had become a full time job for Carol but without monetary compensation of course.  Her reward is the sheer joy of witnessing a player’s first goal or a parent who never thought they’d be a hockey mom or dad, shedding a tear or two watching their son or daughter take to the ice.
Recently a Komets’ father  shared how he had hoped his son would be able to play hockey.  The dream faded with his son’s diagnosis (Autism Spectrum Disorder)  and the realization that he wouldn’t “fit” in regular minor hockey programs due to his challenges.  This season his son skated onto the ice wearing a Komets jersey in the same arena that the father had played in as a child…the Grandravine Community Centre in Toronto.

The Kawartha Komets play  SHI teams from Kitchener, Toronto, Mississauga, Newmarket, Ajax, Cambridge and the Ottawa Valley and over the last five years have participated in four international tournaments in Orangeville, Boston, Kitchener and Detroit.

Looking back Carol remarked, “My vision was to ensure that the Komets program provided an opportunity that is fully inclusive for both females and males to be able to live their dream of playing hockey.  We seek to provide an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance of who these players are with their own unique gifts and talents as individuals.”
Taking the Komets program to this level would not have been possible without the support of committed board members,  coaches and  volunteers, supportive parents, the ongoing financial support of local businesses, Mary McGee, the Peterborough Petes, the Peterborough Hockey Association (PHA), the media, SHI Canada and its teams and of course those who have a desire to play hockey....the amazing Kawartha Komets players.

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