Over the winter break, the MICDS Hockey team had a chance to play an exhibition game against players from the Blues Special Hockey Program — a chance they’ve awaited for several years. Sponsored by the St. Louis Blues, the Blues Special Hockey team is one that allows teens and young adults who live with varying disabilities the chance to play on an organized hockey team. And each year, they play against high school and club teams across the St. Louis area.
The connection between the program and MICDS started with Harrison Thomas `18, who is in his 7th year coaching for the Special Hockey team.
“There’s nothing that kids enjoy more than playing a game,” Thomas said. “And the teammates love the thought of playing against another team. They idolize hockey players.”
Thomas also said he appreciates the relationships he has built with the players he coaches. He shared a story about one female player in particular, Sam, whom he taught to skate and has been coaching ever since.
“She’s funny and has a huge love for hockey, which is great. She’s unique in her own way, and we have a special relationship. I know she really loves One Direction, so if she scores a goal, I have to sing a One Direction song in front of the team for her.”
For Thomas, getting the chance to represent MICDS while playing against a team he’s coached for years was a rewarding one — and for the rest of the MICDS players too.
“The fact that we were able to give them our time, dressed out and had refs — it’s not something you get to do every day. It was another connection we could make as a team,” added Thomas. “There was a rallying aspect about playing kids who are less advantaged — to see that someone values this game that sometimes we take for granted. Something like this puts it into perspective. It’s humbling.”