This past August, USA Hockey named Amy LaPoe (Naperville, Ill.) the new Special Hockey Representative for the Disabled Hockey Section.
“I am honored to be given this exciting opportunity,” said LaPoe, who spent the past 10 seasons as USA Hockey’s Central District Disabled Representative. “It will be my top priority to see special hockey grow in the United States.”
In this role, LaPoe will be responsible for working with special hockey programs around the country to help them grow and develop in order to allow more individuals with special needs to have the opportunity to play hockey. On a national level she will continue to develop new tools and resources and represent special hockey within the Disabled Hockey Section.
LaPoe was originally introduced to hockey over 20 years ago when her son, Spencer, wanted to play. Spencer, who has Down syndrome, originally started playing hockey with the Gateway Locomotives in St. Louis, but when the family relocated to the Chicago area in 2000, LaPoe discovered the need for a special hockey team in the area. With the help of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, LaPoe founded what is today recognized as the Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey Team. Since its creation 16 years ago when it was called Tomahawks Special Needs Hockey, the program has grown and now has over 100 members across three locations in the Chicago area.
For her contributions to hockey, LaPoe was inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012 and in 2014 the Dick Butkus Foundation named her a Youth Sports Most Valuable Player at the Chicago Sports Legacy Event.
For the first time ever, USA Hockey will offer an advanced coaching clinic at the 2016 USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Workshop that will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, September 30-October 2. The clinic, designed by the USA Hockey Coaching Education Program in cooperation with other Special Hockey organizations and experts, is specifically for coaches of special hockey programs and aims to not only cover the hockey-specific matters but also topics that are unique to special hockey. Some of the content will include adopting the American Development Model for Special Hockey; equipment and locker room issues; first aid, seizures and other medical issues; player assessment and matching lines; behavioral management; and other topics. For more information on the clinic, visit www.usahockey.com/disabledhockeyworkshop.
With the 2016-17 season set to get underway, organizations are reminded of the significant benefits that come with being a member of USA Hockey.
Special Hockey Teams are just like every other part of USA Hockey and because of the affiliation with the International Ice Hockey Federation on the international level, rules are in place that allow Hockey Canada and USA Hockey teams to play against each other. These rules serve as a benefit for organizations and clubs that are USA Hockey members much like other benefits received, such as helping with marketing materials, support in running Try Hockey for Free sessions, and the Disabled Hockey Workshop for program administrators
USA Hockey has recently created a video to help Special Hockey programs and teams determine their player’s level for Special Hockey. This video was created with the help of the Detroit MORC Stars and is a tool that can be used by coaches and programs to better understand a players’ abilities and ultimately create a more consistent evaluation and ranking of players across the country. In addition to helping a program or team evaluate their own players, this video also aids coaches when playing other programs and teams, as the evaluation of players will be consistent and lead to identifying teams with similar abilities.
Additionally, a new Special Hockey Promotional Video is being produced and will be available for programs by October. The video shows various aspects of being a part of a Special Hockey program and includes testimonials from players, parents and program administrators about the joys and benefits of playing hockey in a Special Hockey program. This video will allow special hockey programs to customize and add their contact information at the end so they may use the video to promote their program and get players to try hockey. For more information, visit usahockey.com/specialhockey.