Photo Credit Jan Garrison
January 19, 2015

The cheers came a little quicker and the tears rolled a little easier when a special group of hockey players took to the ice at Culver Academies over Jan. 17-18. The annual Culver Special Needs Hockey Tournament was conducted with an expanded field of five teams participating.

Nick Haydon (left) and Dominic Garcia

Nick Haydon (left) and Dominic Garcia

This year, prep hockey players Dominic Garcia ’15 (Las Vegas) and Nicholas Haydon ’15 (Eureka, Mo.) were the organizers, using the event as their senior service project. Several teammates and other student-athletes served as timers, scorekeepers, game officials, and tour guides for the players and their families. Students also made signs for the team and individual players, then taped them to the hockey rink glass.

Even the Compuware girls hockey team – in town to play a two-game series with Culver Girls Academy – gave a boost to their hometown team, the MORC Stars of Detroit. And Kelsi Carr ’14, who started the tournament, returned to lend her guidance.

“Nick and I worked with Kelsi to get it organized,” Garcia said after the final medal ceremony Sunday. “Since people knew about it from last year, we had a lot more help this time.”

Special Needs HockeyAlong with the Stars, the Columbus (Ohio) Blue Jackets and the Black Swamp Ice Frogs (Bowling Green, Ohio) each brought a team and the Indy (Indianapolis) Twisters returned with two.

The weekend included three games of hockey for each team, taking meals in the Lay Dining Hall, and going to a dance in the Steinbrenner Recreation Center Saturday evening. Each participant also received a T-shirt. After the games on Sunday, the participants received a medal for their efforts.

The Indy Twisters finished Sunday with a scrimmage between their two teams. Following the medal ceremony, the teams and volunteers all posed for a group photo. The number of parents and grandparents taking photos rivaled the number of participants on the ice. After the group photos, people broke into small groups, with the Culver athletes asking for as many photos with their favorite players as the players did with their favorite volunteers.

And the torch has already been passed on for the 2016 edition of the tournament. Garcia said second-classmen Ryan Patrick (Morgantown, W.Va.) and Daniel Woolfenden (Columbus Mill Creek, Wash.) will be serving as the main organizers.


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