With the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) hosting their inaugural Ice Sledge Hockey Youth Development Camp in Langenhagen, Germany, there was a proud Canadian representation on-hand. Peggy Assinck, a charter member of the Canadian national women’s ice sledge hockey team was joined by Geneva Coulter, one of the game’s rising stars. As a side note, they were also joined by Corey Montgomery, a World Indoor Para Rowing silver medalist who is also an Ottawa-based ice sledge hockey player.
There were among 23 players from eight countries, gathering in a series on-ice instruction, along with off-ice training and educational seminars. Of note, topics of discussion during said seminars included anti-doping, classification and the highly admirable Paralympic movement.
Coaches from Canada, Norway and the United States participated in the on-ice sessions, working on such fundamentals as stick handling, shooting and strength. With support from the German Federal Ministry of the Inferior, the event held great importance as women’s ice sledge hockey shall be a demonstration sport at the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea.
For Assinck, who had recently competed with the Canadian floorball national team at the Para Games Breda (in the Netherlands), the Youth Development Camp represented her second trip to Europe in less than three months. Akin to Breda, it was an opportunity for Breda to not only meet new athletes and make new friends, it helped expand her athletic scope, introducing her to other perspectives and approaches to the game,
“It was a really great experience to meet so many athletes from so many different countries and have everyone working to improve their own skills and helping each other to improve. It was also amazing to have so much access to different coaching. I learned a tone of new and valuable skills from both the coaching staff and fellow athletes.”
As one of the youngest players in attendance at the event, it proved to be more than a remarkable learning experience for Coulter. Having also been recently named to Alberta’s provincial ice sledge hockey team (one of only two women named, joining Alannah Mah), it represents a tremendous run of momentum for the Edmonton-raised Coulter.
In reflecting on the opportunity to attend the Ice Sledge Youth Camp in Germany, an element of chance factored in, providing Coulter with a lifetime of memories, “IPC had some unexpected spots open up for the camp very last minute and Women’s Sledge Hockey of Canada was offered 2 spots to send players. Fortunately, we were able to fill the spots on short notice and take advantage of this incredible opportunity.”
Having Assinck, who has played with Coulter on the national team, join her in Germany only added to the magic of a special time, building strong self-esteem and adding to her confidence,
“Being able to travel with a teammate instead of my parents was very empowering as it gave me the confidence to be more independent. Traveling with Peggy was fantastic and it was really fun to share the experience with her.”
Although Coulter has a bright future ahead of her, definitely one of the cornerstones for Canada’s national team, she also brings a willingness to learn. Employing maturity and poise, the result was the acquisition of knowledge, not only covering a wide breadth of topic, but helping to foster her promising leadership skills,
“There were many things that were really great about the experience…getting to meet players from all over the world and sharing our sledge experiences.
Being exposed to different coaching styles. Global interest and attention for the event along with focusing on skill development over team development.”
Among the memorable times from the inaugural Youth Development Camp, Assinck was proud at the great leap forward for sporting equality. As women’s ice sledge hockey continues to grow, this event marked a key landmark moment, adding to the feeling of acceptance and community that is quickly defining the women’s ice sledge hockey landscape,
“It was amazing to have women playing in the camp and not just see them being invited but seeing them play at a high enough level that they were indistinguishable from the male athletes with regards to their ability to play. Hopefully all the athletes from each country will go home and help to promote Women’s Sledge Hockey in their own country.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from Facebook