Sled hockey was invented in Stockholm in the early 1960s. After a slow start, the game was first demonstrated at the Paralympics Winter Games in Sweden in 1976 and became an official game at the 1994 Paralympics in Lillehammer, Norway, according to an article in Challenge Magazine, of Disabled Sports USA.
History of the River City Sled Rovers
Attorney, James (Jay) Lewis helped started the River City Sled Rovers team in 2011. Jay serves on the Board of Directors of River City Challenged Athletes, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that manages wheelchair basketball and sled hockey programs for disabled athletes.
The River City Sled Rovers is a sled hockey team based in South Bend, Indiana. They purchased their first set of six sleds and stick sets in late 2011, and soon added an additional six sleds and stick sets on loan from USA Hockey because of overwhelming interest in the team. Continuing fundraising and sponsorship efforts have enabled the River City Sled Rovers to purchase additional sleds, equipment, and uniforms. We worked with the Ft. Wayne sled hockey team, the Turnstone Flyers, to help get their team organized.
The River City Sled Rovers hockey team is affiliated with the local wheelchair basketball team, the River City Rollers. The two teams together are part of a new non-profit corporation called River City Challenged Athletes, Inc. Thanks to the Irish Youth Hockey League, we are also affiliated with the IYHL Rovers hockey program, and they have agreed to allow us to use the nickname “Sled Rovers” for our hockey team.
Our first year, the Sled Rovers was a combined team of youths and adults, following the model that the Ft. Wayne team did when they got started. After 2-3 years, when their numbers grew, they split into 2 teams, one adult team and one youth team, which still share the ice for practices. But, for the first few years, we were a combined team – while everyone was learning the sport and interest in the team was growing.
Sled hockey is designed for athletes with lower-body disabilities. But each team can also have several able-bodied athletes as well, given that being strapped into the sled takes away nearly every advantage such athletes would otherwise enjoy. We expect that the Sled Rovers will include around 15 players total (with sleds and equipment for all), with 4-5 able-bodied among them.
We try to schedule 6-8 practices and 5-6 games in the November – January time frame. If you are interested in participating as a player, volunteer, or sponsor, please send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Thanks for your interest in Sled Rover hockey!