The 4th Annual UCT Winter Hockey Festival has come to an end – and what a special festival it was! Not only was it the first time UCT brought the event out West (Valencia, Calif.), but we were also thrilled to welcome our first special hockey team from Canada – the Vancouver Island Vision from British Columbia. With seven teams from across North American – Canada, California, Colorado and Virginia – the festival will remain as one of the most enjoyed yet!
With an intimate opening ceremonies, highly competitive and exciting games, special appearances by Bailey, the LA Kings mascot, as well as the Kings Chariot and ice girls, and more, the 2015 festival turned out to be a continuation of what we expect this tournament to be for years to come. Dave Chase, president of Valencia’s SNAP Sports, secretary of UCT’s Valencia S.N.A.P. Flyers Council 2011, and a festival organizer, is our guest blogger today, and he has provided us with his takeaway from the festival.
“I’ve been to thousands of hockey games in my day, but this one was different. As I turned to look at the parents’ section at the UCT Winter Hockey Festival, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. Moms literally pulling on their hair, Dads wringing their hands, brothers, sisters, friends and relatives all doing the same. Why the angst? Because for many, it was the first time they had seen their loved ones engaged in a competitive battle, learning first-hand the ups and downs of winning and losing. In that moment, their special needs loved ones were engaged in such a way that their disabilities actually seemed to vanish for those precious 50 minutes of game time.
You see, what happens here is much more than a game…it’s a game-changer for many families who search relentlessly to find that perfect environment where their child can flourish. This is a safe and friendly opportunity for athletes and their extended families to share in an experience that simultaneously builds confidence, poise, dedication and discipline in the entire family. Once the helmets go on and the puck drops, they are just hockey players and those in the grandstands are just fans, simple and pure. Even if for just a moment, this game lets us all be the same, players and fans, basking in that wonderful place between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
UCT is proud to be a part of creating such a memorable, inspiring experience. We can’t wait for next year’s festival! To see highlights from this year’s tournament, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UCTinAction.