Adaptive Athletes, Paralympians, Idaho Steelheads Participate in Idaho’s First Sledge Hockey Clinic
BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho chapter of the Challenged Athletes Foundation hosted its first-ever sledge hockey clinic in partnership with the Idaho Steelheads and Higher Ground, February 8 at CenturyLink Arena.
Nearly 20 adaptive athletes of all ages and abilities received world-class coaching and mentoring from members of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, including Sochi 2014 team captain and three-time Paralympian Andy Yohe, and Paralympian, Purple Heart recipient and Pat Tillman Award recipient Josh Sweeney. Paralympians Sean Halstead and “One-Arm” Willie Stewart were also in attendance.
“With nearly 200,000 Idahoans living with disabilities, these clinics are vital to our state,” said Jennifer Skeesick, CAF-Idaho Regional Director. “They provide an opportunity to strengthen the existing adaptive sports community in Idaho and empower individuals with permanent physical challenges to try something new in a safe space.”
Most medical insurance does not cover adaptive sports equipment, making the cost of equipment an obstacle for many individuals with physical disabilities. By partnering with organizations like Higher Ground and making adaptive sports equipment readily available, CAF-Idaho ensures clinic attendees can focus on acquiring new skills, increasing self-esteem and enhancing their quality of life.
"Higher Ground is excited to be included in this partnership with CAF-Idaho and the Idaho Steelheads to provide a unique opportunity for everyone to learn this growing sport,” said Justin Safely, Higher Ground Logistics Coordinator. “This collaboration with CAF and their similar mission of recreation for all is a partnership we hope to continue."
Athletes used hockey sleds provided by Higher Ground during the clinic, as well as during the first intermission of the sold out Idaho Steelheads game, where CAF athletes had the opportunity to demonstrate skills they learned earlier in the day.
“It’s a great opportunity to host an event that shows hockey is for everyone,” said Brett Countryman, Director of Game Operations for the Idaho Steelheads. “What is most exciting to me is that for many of the adaptive athletes this will be their first experience with sledge hockey, and to have it happen at CenturyLink Arena on the same ice the Steelheads play on makes it just that much more special.”
With a shared commitment to improve the lives of others and make a difference in the community, CAF-Idaho, Higher Ground and the Idaho Steelheads are creating a culture where all feel welcome and have access to a supportive fitness and community environment.
Future scheduled events for CAF-Idaho include the CAF-Idaho Grant Night, February 21 at the Warhawk Air Museum, and a sledge hockey and curling clinic, March 6-7 in Hailey, Idaho.
For more information about CAF-Idaho, visit www.challengedathletes.org/idaho.