Watertown sledge hockey player and mother hope to grow the sport locally

Jacksyn Wirkus, back left, and Weston Brink; Keirra Rudebusch, front row left, Kadynce Ohman, Keira Henman, Brynn Eitreim and David Johnson spend time on the ice at Watertown Ice Arena.

Watertown loves hockey.

The fast-paced game of ice, sticks and puck is so popular that the city is getting a new ice rink and a downtown park for visitors to skate and play.

Now Watertown resident Meghan Brink wants to show young players in the area that hockey isn’t just for those who can stand on skates.

The Midwest Hockey Association finds ways for everyone to participate in the sport, even those who may not be able to safely practice traditional skating. This is made possible by using a sled that players sit in. The sled is pushed by a standing skater or can be propelled across the ice using modified and shortened hockey sticks.

When sledge hockey was introduced to Watertown several seasons ago, Brink’s 12-year-old daughter Kadynce Ohman wanted to try it out.

“It’s an adapted sport designed for people with physical limitations who can’t play standing hockey,” said Brink. “My daughter suffers from ataxia caused by a rare metabolic disorder that qualified her to play sledge hockey.

Kadynce Ohman

Kadynce Ohman

Like many children introduced to the puck and ice, Ohman fell in love with hockey and actively played sledge hockey for the past three seasons.

All traditional hockey rules apply and Ohman can play with other players, both on skates and sleds.

“Lucas Deutsch (Watertown Lakers head coach) was kind enough to include Kadynce so she could get out in her sled and spend time on the ice with the players standing. The Watertown Hockey Association is wonderful in including and understanding that hockey is for everyone. Just because she’s in a sled she’s no different from standing players, ”Brink said.

Ohman travels to scrums and tournaments where she plays with the Siouxland Lightning and other sledge hockey players.

His coaches are helping Kadynce Ohman prepare before heading to the ice for a scrimmage.

His coaches are helping Kadynce Ohman prepare before heading to the ice for a scrimmage.

Now that the mother-daughter team has a few years of experience in sledge hockey, she wants to share the joys of the sport with others in the region.

“Kadynce has a few friends who she plays in other adapted sports with who have shown some interest,” said Brink. “If we bring this sport more to our area, I hope the local Special Olympics will come here and help me promote it.”

Ohman is currently the only sledge hockey player in the area, but it is hoped that with awareness Watertown could have a 12-18 year old sledge hockey team. Brink has previously been approached by parents with children looking for suitable sports options. .

“A parent contacted me whose son was recently diagnosed with epilepsy. They wanted to know more about sledge hockey and if it appealed to him. He is only 6 years old, ”she said.

Sledge hockey is not only an opportunity for children with limited physical abilities to play, it also helps strengthen their bodies.

“Not all players have the mobility of the arms to push each other, so they have pushers installed on the back of their sleds, and someone standing can push them around the arena. They always use their sticks to hit the pucks, ”said Brink. “Towards the end of last season, Kadynce had enough strength in his arms to be able to move his sled using his poles.”

The cost of hockey sleds ranges from $ 800 to thousands of dollars, but Siouxland Adaptive Sports guarantees that skaters have access to the sleds at no cost to parents. A grant from the Challenge Athletes Foundation helps provide sleds, and other grants can be obtained to provide small equipment like bags and hockey sticks.

“The first year is free. The second year, you only pay the standard hockey association fee of $ 45, ”Brink said. “The cost to parents is very minimal. We provide the equipment and the sleds, and if they decide to upgrade, they’re free to do so.

Those interested in learning more about sledge hockey can contact Brink at 605-220-3394 or visit the local team’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/siouxlandsledhockey.

This article originally appeared on Watertown Public Opinion: Bringing suitable sports to Watertown through the use of hockey sleds

Catherine J. Martinez