Sled hockey has been a fixture with The Independence Center recently and can be seen in various IC materials like television commercials and the newsletter.  However, we’d like to focus on the person behind the team. Doris Donley, Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association (CSAHA) VP Disabled Hockey, plays a huge role in the sled hockey team, and has been a resource and friend to The Independence Center.

How did you get involved with sled hockey and CSAHA?

“My son came to me asking if he and I could volunteer with the sled hockey program. What a great opportunity to be doing something with my son! However, fear gripped my heart. First, I was still such a novice at hockey and now I was again getting into something I knew relatively nothing about; sled hockey AND people with disabilities. I felt out of my element…for about five minutes. The minute I was on the ice with the sled hockey players, I realized that they had the same enthusiasm for the game that I did and they were so welcoming. Their smiles beam from ear to ear, they loved the freedom of being on the ice and enjoyed the team camaraderie; they captured my heart. My son and I knew instantly that this was where we wanted to be.”

What do you enjoy most about working with the sled hockey team?

“Watching our participants realize that they are athletes. Every aspect of what we do is in accordance with USA Hockey; we are a team, we act like a team, and we promote the sportsmanship of a team. I love seeing the players realize their potential; going from hardly being able to skate with their sled around the ice to skating a full practice at high speeds, gaining core strength, scoring their first goal and enjoying the camaraderie of the team. I especially enjoy watching the smiles, the team encouraging each other and counting on each other.”

How do you feel the collaboration with The IC has helped the sled hockey team?

“It has absolutely one of the best things! It definitely helped to promote the adult team, which is what we have wanted to have happen for quite some time. We are so thankful!”

Do you have anything you’d like to share about sled hockey, accessible sports or The Independence Center?

“THANK YOU to the Independence Center, the Colorado Springs Jr. Tigers and the hockey community for partnering with us to promote our Sled Hockey Program. We are continually thrilled by the significant financial, volunteer, and team support we receive. It is vital to the success of our program; we would not be here without it.”