The Austin Blades Sled Hockey organization's mission is to empower and motivate youth and adults of any gender with a physical disability to take part in a competitive team sport, just like able-bodied individuals. We promote physical fitness, self-confidence, family values, and build personal and athletic skills in a positive team-building atmosphere. Our motto is "Putting our dis-Abilities on the ice because NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!"
In October they competed in the 2017 Penguins Sled Hockey Face-Off Tournament in Pittsburgh and took 1st place for the second year in a row. One of our players, Nick Olding, was able to win one of our games in a shootout which was the first time he had ever had this opportunity. My son again competed with our adult team and scored his 1st Hat Trick!
Impact StatementSince becoming president of the Austin Blades Sled Hockey team in 2016 and restructuring the organization, the players have participated in more tournaments than in years past, we've recruited new players, and the players have gone to sled hockey camps for the first time this past year. This has been the most rewarding volunteer/non-paying job I've ever had. Giving individuals these opportunities that they normally wouldn't have had and seeing the excitement on their faces, the enthusiasm, and drive that each of them have is the most heart melting feeling anyone could ask for. This is probably the hardest job not to mention the most hours I've ever put into anything, but at the end of the day it's beyond worth it! Sled hockey gives anyone with a physical disability the feeling of being free when they are on the ice and the opportunity of being on a team that disabilities turn into abilities!
Needs StatementWe are non-profit with a 501c3 which makes all donations tax deductible. In order for the Austin Blades Sled Hockey Team to have opportunities to travel to tournaments, camps, pay for registration fees, USA Hockey membership fees, practice ice time, sleds, protective gear, and try to bring more awareness of Sled Hockey via advertisement, sponsorships and donations are highly relied on due to our limited budget.
As a parent with a child that has a physical disability I know that medical bills add up, so our organization pays for anyone with a physical disability to be a part of our team and have memorable experiences that will last a lifetime.
Ice time is $8000.00 per year. Travel expenses for just "ONE" player is around $900.00 which includes airfare, hotel, car rental, food and tournament registration. We have 3 upcoming tournaments in February, March and April. One sled costs anywhere from $600-$800.00, sled hockey sticks and protective gear for one player is around $400.00. We have 4 new players that we don't have sleds and enough safe and good enough equipment to accommodate them.
Since we are trying to grow our organization, recruit more players and form a junior team the only way we expand more awareness of sled hockey is not only through word of mouth and social media, but by advertising as well, which extra funding would help us accomplish this as well.
These amazing individuals deserve to have opportunities just like abled-bodied individuals. Sled Hockey gives them so much inspiration, drive, makes them feel free while out on the ice, excitement and hope!
Thank you for all your hard work to put this together for us Mari!! I hope you know how much we appreciate everything you have done to make this happen!
Thank you for making this tournament week-end possible for us.
Thank you for this opportunity for Steve. He doesn't get to go to tournaments often. He had a blast!
Steve's wife :)
I have seen a number of individuals attempt to start up a sled hockey program in Austin and they all lacked the motivation and will to keep the organization operational; Mari has been a breath of fresh air for sled hockey in Austin. She has revitalized the organization and is doing everything required to properly run the program. In the short time in her position, she has gained support from all the teams in the state of Texas and is working closely with them to grow the sport.
Mari and the Blades have encouraged players from across the state to participate in their weekly practices as well as upcoming trips to tournaments around the country. Mari is truly building the organization to sustain and be a successful program. I can say that the Austin Blades is being operated better than most of the sled hockey programs in Texas. Austin is now a team that I am proud to have as an affiliate under TAHA.
Dallas Sled Hockey - President
Texas Amateur Hockey Association - Disabled Section President
Mari (the president of the Austin Blades) is one of those persons when you first meet them that you know they have a good heart. When I first met Mari I thought she was such a tiny girl that she couldn't help much me being a very large and strong athlete. She asked if I needed help getting back in my wheelchair from my sled. I said Okay and she went to it. Mari grabbed me and threw me in that chair. She has the same strength physically that she shares with everyone on the team. She is very much a giver and takes care of her son Grant which is Paralympics bound, along with our team. Mari has a very Dynamic personality and she puts her heart into everything she does especially for the Austin Blades.
SeouParalympic athlete David Wear