The fifth annual SoCal Special Hockey Festival culminated its hockey season by bringing special needs hockey players from San Diego, Utah and Colorado to compete together at the Ice Station over the weekend.
The event was hosted by the local nonprofit SNAP (Special Needs Athletes and Parents), which provides sport-based activities for special needs athletes.
The festival was much more than just an opportunity to play hockey, but it was also a time where families and athletes could meet one another and share experiences.
“In order to bring groups like this together, this event gives families a comfortable 48-hour period of like-minded people who are all experiencing the same thing, and they get to do this activity that brings them together,” explained Dave Chase, executive director at SNAP Sports. “Families can gather and share resources, information, sadness, joy — whatever they want to share.”
A total of 145 athletes competed in the hockey games, each one challenging themselves, as well as getting the opportunity to meet new people and learn new things.
SNAP Treasurer and team mom Catherine Jackruback explained the triumphs many of the players went through during the event.
“When (athletes) first started here, a lot of them couldn’t even put on a pair of skates, and now to be able to put on a pair of skates, all of the gear, get on the ice and compete on a hockey team tournament, is amazing,” said Jackruback. “It has done some much for not only their confidence but it helps them rationalize things, think things through. On the ice they have to think and see their teammates, their coach so it’s helped their ability to compete in life.”