MISSOULA – If you’ve ever been curious about curling or wanted to find yourself on blades, this is the weekend to try.
On Saturday afternoon at the Glacier Ice Rink in Missoula, coaches will be on hand to introduce newcomers to ice sports.
One of the most exciting sports emerging in Missoula isn’t for everybody. Well, maybe it is.
Five years ago, Kelly Sellars was paralyzed in a car crash. That didn’t slow down this mother of two. This wheeled warrior plays hockey.
“It’s a challenge. It’s definitely a different sport,” Kelly said. “I got into it because it’s a great workout, which you don’t have a lot of opportunities, being a person with a disability in the winter.”
Kelly plays sled hockey using an adaptive sled and modified hockey sticks. It’s a sport that’s been around a while, but there are efforts underway to create a team here in Missoula.
Molly Blair runs the New Directions Wellness Center in Missoula that crates exercise programs with people with disabilities. She’s been writing grants get the gear for the game. Each sled is about $800.
“The best part about sled hockey is that it evens everybody out,” Blair said. “So when you see people out on the ice on sleds you don’t know who has a disability and who does not. It just opens up a whole new opportunity for people to get active and have fun”
“It’s getting in the sled and learning skills that it takes to move the sled and the puck in front of you,” said Lucy Keller. “It’s been really, really fun.”
Kelly showed us how it’s done and when she talks about it being a workout, she’s right. You may be on a sled but don’t think this is easier than being on regular skates.
“It’s amazing to see able-bodied people try it and have them step on the ice, and they then have more respect for us, because they try it and they see how challenging it is.”
As with any ice sport, there’s a learning curve. But being out on the ice offers a gift many of us take for granted.
“It’s a freedom you don’t get in a chair. The chair is really restrictive and getting out there on the ice makes you feel like when you were an able-bodied person. There’s no disability on the ice. Everyone out there is working at their own pace and playing together.”
The goal is to have a sled hockey traveling team by next year.
The ‘Try Me’ day at the Glacier Ice Rink is tomorrow from 2-6 and the sled hockey demonstration starts at 5.
Reporting by Jill Valley for MTN News