Labatt Grant Recipient

Mustangs Off To A Great Start In 2016

A lot has happened since the last time I posted a blog entry. I do apologize, with the birth of my son Griffin in December and my final semester of college, time has been hard to come by, but let’s get you caught up.

The Mustangs program has really found its footing as of late, so let’s start with our big event:

Try Sled Hockey Day

On February 21st we hosted a Try Sled Hockey Day that had more than 75 participants. Our event was held to celebrate the $25,000 grant we received from Labatt Blue’s Pass It Forward initiative and also to raise awareness about our sport. The ultimate goal of allowing both able-bodied and disabled individuals try sled hockey was to gain more players. We now have more than 10 roster spots available as a result of our grant money and are actively seeking players to fill those spots. Even KTTC’s Taj Simmons and Devin Bartolotta hopped in a sled and gave it a try.

Labatt Grant Recipient
(Labatt Grant Recipient)
Mix of MN Wild and Mustang programs
(Mix of MN Wild and Mustang programs)
Excitment of playing sled hockey for the first time
(Excitment of playing sled hockey for the first time)

New Players & Volunteers

As a result of our Try Sled Hockey Day we gained a few new players, although we would have considered our event a success even if we only had one new player join.

One of the participant’s mother said, “This was a great event and allowed all my kids to understand what my youngest son needs to do to participate.”

Our new player Jerry, who has muscular dystrophy, also got to share a special moment with his children when he got on the ice to skate with them for the first time.

Jerry trying sled hockey for the first time
(Jerry trying sled hockey for the first time)

The Mustangs have become much more than a sports team in the past year. When you join the Mustangs you not only join a competitive team that is driven to succeed, but you also join a growing group of friends who support and push one-another to defy the stigma of disability and share special moments that might not otherwise be possible.

It has become hard to tell who enjoys being a Mustang more lately, the volunteers or the players. Not enough can be said about the growing number of volunteers we have and their dedication to provide all abilities the opportunity to play hockey. Volunteers are crucial to our programs success at every level.

volunteer helps player in to their sled
(Volunteer Missy helping a player in to his sled)

New Storage

Thanks to the hard work from our very own Rob Weigel and help from Oakwood Construction, we now have proper storage for all of our gear at Graham Arena. Graham Arena has been very accommodating with our program as we grow and learn to operate more efficiently. With our new storage, we look to have scheduled open skate times where both able-bodied and disabled individuals can join us on the ice.

Beginning of construction
(Beginning of construction)
Finished product with the individuals who made it happen
(Finished product with the individuals who made it happen)












What’s Next?

Confidence is at an all time high for the Mustang program. Our short-term goal is to grow the size of our program and test our skills by scheduling some scrimmages to end our first season. But those are easily achievable goals, and the Mustangs want to go bigger.

Our long-term goal is to get rink modifications that would make the benches convertible to handicap/sled accessible and then host regional sled hockey tournaments. We live in Med City, so why not make Rochester a hub for disabled hockey and sports?

As always, we continue our strive to grow the Mustangs program and recruit more players. If you know of anyone who may benefit from joining an adaptive sport and a great group of supportive individuals, please help share our story.


Special thanks to:

Taj Simmons for the well-done story that aired on KTTC:

Lauren Haya Photography for capturing intimate moments from our event:

Graham Arena for allowing us to put up storage and accommodating our unique needs

Oakwood Construction for the help and materials to build our storage locker


About the author

Justin McClanahan is Public Relations major at Winona State University. Justin is a player and board member for the Rochester Mustangs.

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