Sled hockey skates on inclusiveness, fun

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) — Jack Sanders is one of the best hockey players you don’t know about.

His shot was good enough to help Team USA win gold at the 2002 Winter Paralympics in Salt Lake City.

“It was just surreal,” Sanders said. “It’s almost like you leave one world and go to another.”

Now, Sanders is passing on his moves to the next generation.

“[It’s great to] watch them get better,” he said. “They pay me back in smiles.”

Smiles are easy to come by in sled hockey.

The rules are similar to regular hockey, but this time around you have two sticks to corral the puck and move yourself forward. It’s a highly accessible sport that gives disabled athletes, like Sanders, the chance to play the game they love.

“Hockey is a family, no matter what you have or who you are,” said youth hockey coach Shane Brilley.

“These kids…that’s where it’s all at,” Sanders said. “I love teaching these kids.”

Teaching these kids an inclusive sport that’s as good as gold.

If you or your child would like to sign up to play with the Central Illinois Sled Hockey Association, click here for the association's contact information.