Twin brothers take to the ice for Simcoe County Sliders Sledge Hockey Club
GISELE WINTON SARVIS/ PHOTO Wasaga Beach twins Windrim, left, and Lincoln Ash, 10, play defence on the Simcoe County Sliders. As Lincoln has cerebral palsy, and Windrim has no disability, sledge hockey provides the opportunity for the brothers to play together on a competitive team.
COLLINGWOOD — The Ash brothers have found their passion in the sport of sledge hockey.
Ten-year-old twins Lincoln and Windrim play defense on the Simcoe County Sliders Sledge Hockey Club.
It's an inclusive club that allows people with disabilities to play alongside peers and friends and family without disabilities.
"The whole thing for us is the inclusiveness. Lincoln was born with cerebral palsy, so finding a team sport they can play together is very hard, especially in this area," said their mother Stacy.
Parents Stacy and Tim Ash of Wasaga Beach have dedicated themselves to the sport, taking the boys to Saturday practices at the Stayner Arena and the season schedule of 10 games and two tournaments across Central Ontario.
"It's Canada, so it's hockey," she said. At the first tournament in November, Windrim scored his first goal.
"The puck came out because the goalie was focused on this other player that he thought had the puck and the net was wide open so I shot it in," he said.
Windrim wants to score more goals but that's not his favourite part of the sport.
"I can play with Lincoln," is what he likes best.
Lincoln has scored a couple of assists and is looking forward to scoring his first goal.
"It's fun to play this kind of hockey with Windrim because I can't walk or skate. This way I can sit down and skate. I like how it's hockey and I can play," Lincoln said.
Coach Khai Ma said he has seen a big difference in the boys since they started playing sledge hockey.
"Their growth as players has been amazing. We started out just learning how to skate with these sleds. They've progressed. They are very aware of where they are on the ice and their positioning. They have turned into some awesome hockey players. They communicate with each other and they are a very important part of our team," he said.
Ma said every day on the ice is worthwhile, adding that the Ash brothers are the jokesters on the team.
Last year was the team's first full season and the beginners weren't challenging the other teams.
However, the entire team came back this year.
"This year their skill level is much better. We are challenging the other teams," Ma said.
There are five new players for a total of 22 on the team. Windrim and Lincoln encouraged three fellow Worsley Elementary School students to join the team.
Win or lose, playing sledge hockey is beneficial for the players in several ways.
"Winter time is especially a difficult time for kids with disabilities to get physical fitness," he said.
Stacy said her boys are physically strong. Lincoln has six-pack abs.
Ma said it's not just a physical sport, but also a time to socialize, make new friends and learn how to be a team player.
"The kids don't have another chance to do that at all. This their opportunity to be a member of a team, contribute and feel they are needed and depended upon," he said.
Simcoe County Sliders started two years ago and was the first 'junior' sledge hockey team for boys and girls between the ages of 5 to 21 of all abilities.
Lincoln and Windrim said they like going to tournaments because they get to stay in a hotel, swim in a pool, eat pizza and hang out with their friends.
They plan on continuing to play competitive hockey and hope to make Team Ontario and Team Canada and compete in a future Winter Paralympic Games.