By Lee Durocher
I have played wheelchair hockey for over 20 years, I also played on a team that was a step above a beer league team. I love playing wheelchair hockey and always have – I love the competitiveness of the sport. Within those 20 years I have played this sport – I have seen this sport change from a possible Paralympic Sport to a recreation sport. I have also seen equipment changes which made sense … now. I also seen players grow and excel in this sport, then go on to start an entirely new sport.
Let’s talk about the changing of the equipment for a while: helmets with full cages are now a must have to play. That change makes a lot of sense because of the hockey ball and some sticks get too high not intentionally. I fully agree with that equipment change for safety issues and such. Another change was the ball – it went from a tennis ball to an orange hockey ball. The orange hockey ball doesn’t hurt as much as the tennis ball used to. Changing of sticks I don’t agree with – because it doesn’t make sense what so ever. Because type of sticks is a player preference and a player shouldn’t be asked to change because of the organization or group. The last but not least equipment change we must discuss is for all goalies. Goalies need a little more gear than any other players – even in wheelchair hockey the goalies need the protection.
The goalies have to spend more money on gear and that’s one change I wish they would consider making a must. Because stopping tennis balls was difficult enough at least with gear it would have been a little easier. And now with the change to a hockey ball – the goalies do need equipment. Equipment that works for them and for them only – their equipment can be small so they can move. The goalies can have large equipment so they don’t have to move. Goalie equipment should be made a must have to any wheelchair goalie for their own protection. Any goalie who said they don’t need the proper safety gear is dead wrong and shouldn’t be playing. The goalies that play wheelchair hockey are very lucky the shots aren’t that fast – regardless of the rumors.
The last thing is the rules and regulations or should I say the lack of – the sport of wheelchair hockey is the only sport without a definite set of rules and regulations. The sport needs to change or somebody might get seriously hurt. This sport had rules and regulations back in the day – there wasn’t much at least there was something. Having a brand new set of rules and regulations this sport just might survive. I would love to see this sport grow again to Paralympic quality.