We have another guest blogger today!! Dave Chase, coach of the Valencia SNAP Flyers special hockey team in California, and secretary of the UCT Valencia SNAP Flyers Council 2011, shares with us his experience using the Kaye Trainer within their program. For those of you who have donated to Kaye Trainer International Capital Campaign – this story proves just how important your donations are. Let’s inspire more donations by sharing this blog today!
I was clued-in to the Kaye Trainer back in the winter of 2014 at the UCT Festival in Maryland. I was there to scout the tournament and discuss the possibility of bringing the event west to California the following year, which of course UCT eventually did. While I was in Maryland, I made a point of meeting as many program managers as I could. You see, the Valencia SNAP Flyers were in their infancy compared to the other powerhouse programs and it was becoming very apparent that I/we had a long hill to climb. I was like a “whirling dervish of special hockey knowledge investigation” that weekend, watching game after game, waiting to see that subtle differences that might make an improvement in our program. Then I met the Zinkhan’s from Baltimore.
Jim & Teresa Zinkhan run the Baltimore Saints, one of the largest and most well respected teams in North America. They have been on the cutting edge of special hockey for years, so you can only imagine my excitement when I had the chance to “pick their brains”! I caught up with them during their final game of the festival, so we watched a little hockey as we chatted. This is THE BEST thing about special hockey, everyone involved in running one of these teams is genuinely interested in the success of your program. Jim & Teresa were extraordinarily generous with their time outlining their pitfalls and triumphs along the way. Then I asked, “Is there was one thing I could do tomorrow to help my program grow?” Without hesitation they replied “Buy a Kaye Trainer, you’ll never regret it!”
Before my feet were back on California soil, I had already placed our order with Kaye Products, and within just a few weeks I had put new athletes on the ice who would have otherwise been spectators, prior to the trainer’s arrival. It is a perfect tool to teach skating to athletes with special needs, as well as athletes who suffer from lower extremity disabilities. Our primary user Jason, (whom you have all seen a photo of in UCT’s campaign) struggles with the effects of cerebral palsy. But every Wednesday, he and others like him, take to the ice and enjoy a new freedom. A freedom to move their bodies in new ways and experience the same kind of joy their peers do when they go skating. In the end, the trainer is a tool of inclusion. With its great design and unwavering stability, the Kaye trainer can provide new options for those who believed they were physically unable to skate, or those too frightened of falling to even try.
If I were to be asked about the specific performance of the device, with relation to athletes with special needs, my only comment is that the manufacturers harness is over-engineered for our application. The “stock” harness is designed for a person who may have suffered a traumatic lower body injury, and is more than what is necessary for the typical athlete with special needs to ice skate. We have replaced the one rather expensive manufacturers harness with multiple “safety harnesses” so each athlete has their own harness. This improves the user experience dramatically in that they put the harness on only once, then we just shuttle athletes in and out of the device. Less down time, less discomfort and more fun!! See the below of the “New” harness we have implemented.
One of the unforeseeable benefits of the trainer has been the exposure our program has received, not only in our home arena, but in our community at large. It draws the inspirational comments on a regular basis, and attracts volunteers to it like a moth to a light. If your program has a Kaye Trainer, I hope you find it as extraordinary as we do, and if you don’t already have one…contact UCT and have them put you on the list. You’ll be glad you did!!