The Woolwich Sun Rays is a ‘team of dreams’ that formed to meet a need in the communities of Woolwich Township.
Woolwich is many, many things but is certainly a leader in two areas:
- First, Woolwich has a robust and vibrant Minor Hockey program
- Second, Woolwich takes a diverse and inclusive approach to providing services to all its citizens, especially those with special needs.
The Elmira and District Community Living Association is living proof of that. These two strengths of our Township have converged now in a first-of-its-kind hockey team for participants with developmental disabilities.
With the collaborative effort and support of many partners, sponsors and volunteers, the Woolwich Sun Rays had scheduled ice time beginning in September 2015. The team is open to special needs participants of any and all skill levels; from non-skaters to really good hockey players. Registration is open to male and female participants aged 6 and up.
Minor hockey leagues are divided up into age categories and it is the athlete's responsibility to keep up in ability. The rules do not allow players to play in a lower age group that might be more appropriate for their abilities. The developmentally challenged cannot flourish under such a system. They learn and develop at their own pace, but they do learn and they do develop. They simply need the structure to do so. And they usually have the one thing that any other athlete has: desire. Desire to play. Desire to succeed. Desire even to make it to the NHL.
That’s where Special Hockey comes in. There are no age groups. There are no tryouts. They don’t even need to be able to skate. All they need is what they already have…desire. They will learn how to skate, how to hold a stick, how to handle a puck, how to make a pass, how to take a shot, how to make a save. Some may learn by the end of their first season, others may take years. What they will all do immediately is participate…at every practice and at every game. That’s because they don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectations, only their own. Special Hockey allows the developmentally challenged to achieve their own goals on their own schedule.
This YouTube video of the Guelph Giants will give you a very good glimpse into our vision for the Woolwich Sun Rays.