Dr. Michael Stuart founded the Rochester Mustangs because of his love for hockey and his interest in providing an opportunity for everyone the chance to play.
Dr. Stuart’s qualifications include:
- Co-director of Sports Medicine at Mayo Clinic
- Professor of orthopedic surgery
- Chief medical and safety officer for USA Hockey
- Consultant, National Hockey League Players Association
“We live in the State of Hockey, and we are excited about the opportunity for athletes of all ages and abilities to try this great sport,” said Dr. Stuart.
Dr. Stuart worked as the team physician for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey team that captured the silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Dr. Stuart was also the team physician for the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi.
“USA Hockey has a wonderful tradition through the Paralympic games, and we want to bring it to Rochester, Minnesota,” Dr. Stuart said. “We have a dedicated group of volunteers. We have the facilities. We have the energy. We are raising funds. And we are extremely excited about bringing sled hockey to Rochester.”
- Player Passion
“Growing up I played a lot of team sports before my injury, like baseball, basketball, football, and track,” said Rob Weigel, a T11 paraplegic.
“Since my injury, I got in to some cycling and other things, but they just didn’t have the same aspects as a team sport. Team sports have comradery, and the Rochester Mustangs sled hockey team has given me the chance to get that back,” Weigel said.
The Mustangs currently have 10 players on roster. Like you, each player has a unique life story to tell. However different the circumstances that led them to sled hockey are, the sport has united them.
“I’m a T5 paraplegic, so the options I have for team sports are very limited,” said Allen Chandler, a Mustangs team member. “I haven’t got to play a team sport since my accident, and watching sled hockey was inspiring, and I am excited to learn every time I get on the ice.”
Even though the Mustangs have only held 5 practices, the growing competition and sportsmanship between players each week is something you have to experience. Players started out unsure and hesitant, but now push each other to go harder each practice.
- Volunteer Strength
Each week sees the addition of new volunteers. As word spreads, more and more people want to be involved with the Rochester Mustangs. Current volunteers include:
- Physical Therapists
- Public Relations student
- Local hockey coaches
- Friends and family
- Local media members
- Hockey enthusiasts
If you think helping the team is something you would like to do, come watch a practice at Graham Arena on Sundays at either 8:45 a.m., or 10 a.m.(Check schedule here: Calendar). We are looking for volunteers with varying skills to lend a hand. Be careful, once you witness the enthusiasm and positive vibe exuded by volunteers and players at practice, you’ll be hooked.
- Community Support
As interest grows in sled hockey, so does support from the community. In our early stages, we have received:
- Monetary and supply donations from local businesses
- Graham Arena allowing us to make their premier sheet of ice our home practice ice
- Future open skate times at Graham Arena specific to sled hockey
- Feature stories on local news and in newspapers
- Donated airtime from KROC
You can help us succeed. Rochester is a hockey community, and we need the vast network to help our program become part of the family. You can share our story, volunteer to help with practices, tell someone who you think would want to play, join the conversation, share our story on social media, or just come watch a practice.
Dennis P. Kimbro said, “Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it.” Whether you choose to enrich your life through volunteering, or are a person who chooses to not be defined by disability, the Rochester Mustangs could use your support.
About the author
Justin McClanahan is a Public Relations major at Winona State University. Justin is a player and board member for the Rochester Mustangs.