The Good Old (Powerchair) Hockey Game
Have you ever wondered how you can get involved in sports when you use a power wheelchair? We spoke with the Ottawa Power Wheelchair Hockey League to learn the facts:
What is power wheelchair hockey?
Power Wheelchair Hockey (or PowerHockey) is floor hockey specifically designed for persons who require the use of an electric wheelchair. The sport is played in a gymnasium. The primary source of strength and speed during the sport comes directly from the wheelchair. This allows both male and female participants of all ages, regardless of the severity of the disability, to compete with one another on an equal level.
How did the Ottawa league come to be?
The OPWHL started in the fall of 2009 when a group of university/college friends wished to play hockey and compete in the upcoming North American tournament in Toronto. The OPWHL has grown tremendously over the past 2 years with over 40 participating members. The OPWHL is a registered Charity with the Canada Revenue Agency.
How did you become involved in the league? What does it mean to you to be involved?
I became involved in the league because my son, Scott Haycock, who is affected by muscular dystrophy, is a member of the league. A support role quickly evolved to my position as Chairman of the Board. It is a wonderful opportunity to work with such a dedicated, determined group of young people. Every member of the OPWHL inspires me with his or her patience, tenacity and positive nature. I feel honored to be a part of this organization!
What are the benefits the participants and their families get from being a part of the league?
There are many benefits for participants and families. These include:
- exercise in important for people whom are confined to a wheelchair and for most players, it is the first time they have been able to participate in a sport.
- weekly participation in a social event and a great opportunity for players to make new friends
- opportunity to build relationships with other players and their families as parents network with each other
- working together in a team environment and the opportunity to participate in a competitive event (yearly tournaments)
- parents see their son/daughter grow and develop as a player week by week and the entire family can feel proud of being a member of the league and a community
- and lastly playing hockey! Canada’s favourite sport!
What does a season in the league look like?
There is one practice a week during the month of September to determine placement of players on 4 league teams; the Bears, Gators, Sharks and Wolves. From October to April, there are 2 league games played every Sunday. Throughout the season each team plays 20 games, and 2 playoff games (16 games in total) to determine the winner of the Eric Jamieson Memorial Cup. Following the season, there is an Awards Banquet and Gala where the season is celebrated and athletes are recognized for performance. Twelve players are chosen from the league to participate in the yearly Canadian (CEWHA) or North American (NAPHA) tournaments.
How many participants are affected by muscular dystrophy? What other disorder and conditions are represented?
Approximately one third of our players have muscular dystrophy, which includes Duchenne, Limb Girdle, Becker, Congenital etc. Other players have a range of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy and spinal cord injuries.
Mathieu Gagnon is the Ottawa Walk for Muscular Dystrophy ambassador this year. What do his teammates and the league think of this? How will his team/the league support him at the Walk?
We are very excited and proud that Matt is the Ottawa Walk for Muscular Dystrophy Ambassador this year. Matt is an enthusiastic, energetic, smart and kind young man who is an excellent role model for others with Muscular Dystrophy. Matt and his family are also an important component of the OPWHL. Marian is an event volunteer and James is a member on the Board of Directors. Mathieu won the “Most Improved” player award at our Annual Awards Banquet & Gala last week. Many of our players participated in the Walk this year and were proud that Mathieu was leading the way!
How can people get involved?
Everyone and anyone can get involved:
- Join Us: Any para-athlete or novice who uses an electric wheelchair for mobility and is interested in joining the league, is welcome to come to any of our games to watch and play. Practices and games are held from every Sunday, September to April at the Greenboro Community Centre at 363 Lorry Greenburg Drive from noon until 3:00pm.
- Support Us:
- Volunteering: The league is continually looking for new volunteers, which includes coaches, referees and game-day assistants. There are also administrative roles and positions available on the Board of Directors.
- Donations & Corporate Sponsorship: The OPWHL is a community run program and support from our community is paramount in the operation and growth of the OPWHL.
Need More Information?:
- Additional information regarding the OPWHL can be found on our website
- All games, updates and events are posted on Facebook
- Instant game and event feeds are posted on Twitter @OPWHL
- Contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 613-225-9204
To learn about power wheelchair hockey in other parts of the country, please visit the website of the Canadian Electric Wheelchair Hockey Association.