Middle schoolers skate with special needs hockey team

| 13 Dec 2017 | 11:04

By Rose Sgarlato
— SPARTA-Sharing in their love of hockey, Sparta Middle School Ice Hockey and Special team Monarchs joined forces on November 27 at Skylands Ice World.
The Monarchs is a co-educational youth team for those with special needs. In an effort to include everyone in hockey, the program with chapters in 30 US cities, opens its doors to kids with various disabilities. Locally, the group is based out of Skylands in Stockholm where they run a Learn to Skate program and other activities.
Monarchs Hockey as defined on its website: “The goal of special hockey is to give people with physical and developmental disabilities the chance to play the sport of ice hockey in an environment which is adapted to the level of ability. The athletes play upright and, in most cases, offsides, icing, penalties etc. are not part of gameplay.”
The Sparta Middle School team has about 21 players ranging from sixth through eighth grade who practice and compete out of Skylands. Rick Koerner, president of Sparta Youth Hockey arranged for the two teams to interact.
“The Monarchs are always looking for volunteers. We just thought it would be a nice experience for our team to help out the Monarchs,” said Koerner. “The drills were run and shared. SMS taught the kids how to be better hockey players, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
By emphasizing teamwork through social interaction, Monarch Specials Hockey is hoping to improve the quality of life for its participants on and off the ice.
“The coaches and the parents were so impressed with how the SMS boys handled themselves on the ice with the Monarch players. They showed a great level of maturity and patience,” said Brad Meyers, president of the Monarchs.