With the Blackhawks fresh off their run for the Stanley Cup,
hockey is hotter than ever in Chicago. And the Blackhawks-sponsored
Tomahawks league offers people with special
needs a place to learn.
The Blackhawks-sponsored Tomahawks league offers
people with special needs hit the ice.
JP Bordeleau, one of the coaches for the Tomahawks, says he
regularly hears parents saying their kids can't play hockey.
"They're like, 'Well, he has Down syndrome.' And I'm like, 'So? I
know 50 Down syndrome kids who are playing hockey,'" says
Bordeleau. "I'll tell them about the Tomahawks program and they'll
come out, and you'll watch them; their jaws are on the floor."
Anne Maddock feels that shock when she sees her daughter,
Francesca, skating up and down the rink. "When my family comes to
the United Center to watch every year, (they) can't get over the
difference," she says. Before she started, Francesca couldn't even
skate. "I think that helps build confidence, to try something that
you're not even familiar with and realize that you can do it and
really make good friends out of it," says Maddock.
The coaches break the players up by skill, allowing all levels
to get on the ice and give it their best shot.
In keeping with the Tomahawks' goal of including everyone, costs
for the league are kept low. The league even covers the costs for
families if they can't afford the fees like it did for Casey
Faust's son Cameron. There's also donated equipment for families
who can't buy new gear every year.
While the Blackhawks' sponsorship helps keep costs low, they
also make the Tomahawks stars. Members of the Blackhawks play with
the team and they invite the Tomahawks to play at the United Center
every year and stay for a Blackhawks game. Faust says meeting the
Blackhawks and playing at the United Center has been a dream come
true for Cameron. "The kids walk away going, 'Hey, if this
superstar can be cool with me, I can be pretty cool, too.'"
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