Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, Jul 17, 2010

By Steve Sbraccia
General Assignment Reporter

Related Link: Triangle Special Hockey Association
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RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Triangle's newest hockey league made its debut Thursday night in a special venue; on the ice at the R.B.C. Center. 

The newly formed Triangle Special Hockey Association is dedicated to giving kids who are developmentally or physically challenged a chance to enjoy hockey.

In the dressing area just outside the rink, its founder watched tonight as the kids suited up in real hockey gear for the very first time.

“It took an hour to get them dressed and 7 months to get 'em here,” said founder J.V. Cotterell. He was referring to the amount of time it took to create the league from scratch.

Last summer, the league was just a dream for Cotterell. He was looking for a hockey program for his two kids with special needs. Finding none in the area, he formed his own.

“I make the whole program free to the families,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of medical bills and stuff for these kids, and we've got kids with some pretty difficult disabilities.”

He said if the program wasn’t free, “probably 80 percent of the kids wouldn't be able to skate, because their parents couldn’t afford it.”

On the ice last night for the first time, some of the kids skated like pros. Others needed some help, but will probably skate like pros after a few months in the program.

That help is provided by volunteer mentors; adults and kids from the Junior Hurricanes who act as personal coaches.

“Each one of these kids needs a mentor with them because USA Hockey mandates that somebody be with them out there on the ice with them,” said Paul Strand who is the youth hockey co-coordinator with the Carolina Hurricanes, and one of the mentors.

He said, both player and mentor each get a little something special out of the experience.

“It helps both sides. The kid learns how to skate and the mentor learns how to work with someone who can't do the same things they can do,” he said. “It teaches the mentors value in their life.”

Although the team is just taking its baby steps, the goal of its founder is to have four more of these special hockey association teams throughout the Triangle, so more kids can participate.

Because the program is free to those participating, it's looking for sponsors to help provide equipment for the kids. They say $500 will provide all the gear the players need and it'll be passed down from player to player over the years. 

Date of Publication: 
Sat, Dec 29, 2007