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Farmer Returns Home with Gold, Maybe More

03/21/2014, 4:30pm MDT
By Dan Hickling, Redline Editorial

It seemed just a little unfair.

While Declan Farmer and his gold-medal-winning teammates returned home from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games to hero's welcomes this week, the 16-year old forward from Tampa, Fla., had something else waiting for him.

A big old pile of homework.

Such was the reward for spending two glorious weeks on the coast of the Black Sea, helping Team USA successfully defend its Paralympic sled hockey championship.

Another reward could be around the corner for Farmer and his teammates. Farmer has been nominated for the Best Male Paralympian award and the sled squad has been nominated for the Team of the Paralympic Games award in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s inaugural Best of U.S. awards. Fan voting continues through Friday on the U.S. Paralympics Facebook page, and the winners will be announced during the Best of U.S. Awards Show on April 7 on NBC Sports Network. 

“That's a really big honor,” Farmer said. “I was thinking it would be someone else on our team. But it's a big honor to be nominated for that.”

As for that homework? Don't think that he minded that one bit.

“I'm really glad we were able to win over there,” Farmer said. “It was really crazy. It didn't sink in at first. It was everything that the team worked for during the year. It was really awesome.”

Instructed by his teachers at Belmont Prep to stay away from the books, Farmer, a bilateral leg amputee, was free to pour all his of his considerable youthful energy into his team's hunt for gold.

“My school didn't want me to bring anything over there,” he said. “They wanted to me to focus on the games.”

Farmer followed those directions to a tee.

And so did his teammates, by posting wins over Italy and South Korea in the preliminary round, a 3-0 whitewash of Canada in the semifinal and, of course, a masterful 1-0 clampdown on host Russia in the gold-medal clash.

“We learned so much more about hockey from the coaches over the past seven months,” Farmer said. “The team chemistry improved over that time. That's why we were really able to win. We were so close as a team.”

Yet the march to the medal was anything but dull.

There were more enough white-knuckle moments at every turn to keep everyone focused.

Take the 2-1 round-robin loss to Russia. It could have sent Team USA into a tailspin heading into the semifinal matchup with Canada.

“We just weren't getting the bounces,” Farmer said. “We got shots in that game. We were playing really well. [Goaltender] Steve [Cash] kept us in it. But we weren't getting bounces. It was kind of a wake up call for us, that we needed to be on our game at all times.”

Indeed.

The Americans answered the alarm with a massive effort, as Farmer scored twice and Cash posted his seventh career Paralympic shutout.

“I was definitely feeling good before that game,” Farmer said. “The whole team felt good, and we were fortunate to get some bounces.

“Everyone played their best game of the season.”

Still, all of that was a mere prelude to the grand finale, the rematch with 
Russia in front of a near capacity crowd of 7,000 people at Shayba Arena.

“We were super pumped,” Farmer said. “They're our biggest rival, and 
that game could have gone either way.”

Josh Sweeney's breakaway goal in the second period sucked the air out of the crowd and sent the U.S. bench into a frenzy.

“Everyone was going crazy,” Farmer said. “We saw him get the puck, and the next thing we knew it was in the back of the net.

“We were excited to get that goal. We wanted to add to the lead.”

They weren't able to do that, but thanks to another shutout by Cash, they didn't need to.

The door was slammed on the Russians.

With gold draped around their necks, Team USA watched as the red, white and blue was raised to the roof, crooning along to the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” with every pull, even if they were a bit off-key.

“We weren't that great of singers,” said Farmer, laughing.

Maybe not.

But they were the best sled hockey players on the planet.

They have the gold to prove it.

And what about all that stacked up homework?

Well, while all his Belmont classmates were enjoying their March break, Farmer found himself in an empty classroom, digging into those missed assignments.

“I had to start making that up this week,” he said.

Recent News

Date Result Opponent
Sat., March 8 W, 5-1 Italy
Sun., March 9 W, 3-0 South Korea
Tues., March 11 L, 1-2 Russia
Thurs., March 13 W, 3-0 Canada (Semifinals)
Sat., March 15 W, 1-0 Russia
(Gold Medal Game)

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For 2015-16, there will be an informational video available before an official registers with USA Hockey outlining the requirements and commitment that an individual will need to fulfill in order to complete their registration.

REGISTRATION PROCESS

Next, and a very important change, starting with this season, in order to register for a seminar, an official will have to first register as an official (online) with USA Hockey in order to gain access to the online program to register for a seminar.

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The open-book testing process has also been modified for the coming season. What hasn’t changed is that a Level 1 official will still have to answer the first 50 questions, while Level 2, 3 & 4 officials will have to answer 100 questions. However, the passing score for a Level 2 official has been modified to 80 from 85. All other passing scores remain the same as last year. Those minimum passing scores are 35 for a Level 1 official and 90 for Levels 3 and 4.

While an official is taking the open-book exam, there will be immediate feedback provided after each answer is submitted. If the question was answered incorrectly, the rule reference for that missed question will be given with the appropriate rule book language.

After completing all of the required questions, a summary will be sent of all incorrect responses with their rule references. If a passing score is obtained, then the open-book exam requirement will be complete.

If the result is a failing score, after the seven-day waiting period has passed, the official will only have to retake those questions that were incorrectly answered on their first open-book exam. The retake questions will be based on the same rule reference as the originally missed questions, but will cover a different aspect of the rule.

Once all of the retake questions are answered, the number of correctly answered retake questions will be added to the original test score to hopefully obtain a passing grade. As a reminder, there is no third attempt to pass the open-book exam.

IN-CLASS SEMINARS & ONLINE EDUCATION UPDATES
During the winter meeting, the Officials Section spent considerable time discussing seminar program feedback, and in particular, the online modules. All feedback was taken seriously and an action plan was discussed and adopted.


Two work groups were established to address the new classroom curriculums and to improve the online video modules. Both were comprised of grassroots members who could bring a grassroots perspective to their work. Both groups have completed their work and their recommendations have been adopted. The new shortened classroom curriculums have been distributed for application to this coming seminar season and the online modules are being re-engineered with improved formatting, better sequencing, animation replacing some video clips and reduction of music and voice-overs to allow the viewer to better focus on the presented material.

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Work will continue on improving our educational programs, and as always, we will continue actively listening to your constructive feedback. Without your involvement and support as a community, we cannot continue moving forward.  Acknowledging that improvements were needed was only one step in the process.  Implementing those changes in a way that meets the needs of our officiating community is the next step and we’re excited to be taking that step.

Have a great 2015-16 season and as always, skate hard and have fun when you’re on the ice.

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