I started this special ice hockey team for my son, Kazim. He is 6 and has several developmental disabilities which include hypotonia, non-verbal autism, epilepsy, and a global developmental delay. Kazim loves being active and enjoys ice skating very much. I’ve been teaching him, and while he’s still a full assist beginner, he loves every minute of it. As I love every minute of teaching him.
As a former ice hockey player, passing down my love for the game and sharing my skills with my son is an honor and privilege. His gross and fine motor challenges require me to introduce new and creative solutions to his training. Something as basic as holding a hockey stick was a huge goal for my son. I noticed he felt more comfortable holding a plastic, circular golf club versus a heavier squared stick made of wood.
After sharing this challenge with a friend, I was advised to try a lightweight Salming brand floor hockey stick. He took to this stick immediately and it felt incredibly good to find that solution and help him overcome that challenge. Skills that many take for granted as “simple” are often huge triumphs for individuals with developmental disabilities. Being part of that skill building evolution has become my passion and my mission for, not only my son, but for anyone who wants to learn this amazing sport.
After a year of helping my son build on some basic hockey skills, I tried to find a hockey team in our area that was both adaptive and specifically geared towards our special needs community. These teams exist under an amazing non-profit league called ASHA (American Special Hockey Association). I spent an entire day posting my need on multiple social media outlets, expressing that if we couldn’t find a team that I wanted to start one. A few hours later, I received a phone call from the league that would change everything. After about an hour conversation, I had agreed to start my own adaptive ice hockey team for individuals ages 5 and up with developmental/intellectual disabilities. This has been my dream and now it’s a reality.
Having an adaptive ice hockey team allows for inclusive individual differences in cognitive, behavioral, and physical abilities. Hockey supports every area of development in all people, but particularly in those with special needs. It also supports every goal in all IEP, 504 plan, and behavioral plans in a more motivating setting. Goals that are a struggle in the classroom or at home bloom on the ice. Hockey practice is a structured activity. My son, like many other individuals in our community, cannot functionally participate in social activities without the proper supports or structures in place. Hockey gets players out of the house, engaged with the community, and provides respite for caregivers.
Founder and President of the Richmond Retrievers
HOCKEY IS FOR EVERYONE
If anyone would like to volunteer with the Richmond Retrievers, please contact me (Randi) at Richmondretrievers@gmail.com
We’re looking for volunteer coaches (head/assistant/junior) and supportive one-on-one helpers to offer safety and encouragement support to our players.
Our goal is to be well staffed, as we understand that not everyone will be able to dedicate weekly time to our practices. Family comes first, as well as the safety and (mental, emotional, and physical) well-being of our players and staff. As a special needs mom myself, I highly respect and value everyone’s needs and will be forever grateful for anyone who wants to help out in any way.