Josh Smith has enjoyed ice hockey all his life and has now found a way to give back to the sport he loves.
Each week at the Hamilton Community Center and Ice Arena, Smith teaches sled hockey, an adaptation of ice hockey that uses an open frame sled designed for players to sit and move on the ice.
Sledge hockey is a sport for children and adults with physical disabilities.
Smith, who is the Ice Operation Manager at Hamilton Community Center and Ice Arena, started playing sled hockey about six months ago and said anyone can join and no experience is necessary. Sled hockey practices every Tuesday from 5pm to 6pm and it goes on year round. Each session costs $10. Smith also added that anyone can practice outside practice time if the rink is available.
“It’s all learning and trying for the first time,” Smith said. “Everyone is welcome to come and practice, and we have the sleds.”
All equipment is provided, including the sleds. Smith said they obtained the necessary funding for the sleds, which cost about $700 each.
Smith said he and some helpers push some sleds if someone can’t push the sled themselves. For the most part, Smith said they teach hockey fundamentals and fundamentals.
One person who just picked up sledge hockey is Collin Booher. October 6 was his second time on the sled. He previously went on a test drive when a group from Indianapolis came to Columbus. When the grant was over, they were able to equip Booher with a sled.
When Booher came to try out the sled, he was not disappointed. He has had such a good time that he wants to come on Tuesdays and whenever he has time during the week. He also added that he wants to see the Columbus Icemen play hockey this season.
“It was great,” Booher exclaimed.
Smith, who played minor league hockey, said it’s great that he can mingle with new people and get other people interested in the sport.
“My goal every day is to get someone involved in hockey and grow the sport, whether it’s here or anywhere,” said Smith. “I want kids to enjoy the sport and grow, and it could even be an adult who wants to play for the first time to help the sport grow. That’s what I want to do at the end of the day. I feel like if a person is going to play hockey because of me and keep them away from bad things and keep them busy, I just help and do what I can to feel like I have a purpose.