A Wheelchair Hockey League: Don’t just sit there…Play Hockey!

WCHL logo

What is the WCHL?

The Wheelchair Hockey League (WCHL) of Michigan was created for the enjoyment of participating in hockey. The purpose of this league is to provide an appropriate means for persons in wheelchairs to have the opportunity to play in a competitive floor hockey league and have the chance to engage in the camaraderie and excitement of the sport.

Our league includes players in electric and manual wheelchairs.

The WCHL currently has 40 players, divided into four teams.

Players range in age from 10 to 65+, and have a variety of disabilities that include Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida and Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bone Disease)

Our games are played 4 on 4 with goalies. Our season is 12 Weeks in length, culminating with two playoff rounds of “best of three games” to decide our Wheeler’s Cup Championship. Our seasons are played over the course of 8 months (October through May). We are currently in our 13th season of competitive hockey.

Our games are played Saturdays at The Salvation Army in Warren.

Players use a variety of sticks to play, depending on their upper body strength and ability to grip the stick. Some players add a dowel though the blade of their stick and other players use “Double Sticks”. Double Sticks are two sticks fastened together, with the blades forming a V, and strapped to the player’s legs and chair frame.

The WCHL also records all Season, Playoff & Career Player Stats in our database.

The league was developed and is run by the players with the assistance of parents and volunteers. The WCHL holds many events throughout the year, including an annual All-Star game, Awards Banquet, Season, Playoffs and Game On Ice.

We have even competed against the world’s best wheelchair hockey teams at international tournaments in Toronto, Minneapolis and Calgary with our travel team the Michigan Mustangs.


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In the Beginning..

In 1995 Todd Pasant had a vision for a hockey league for  players in wheelchairs. That’s how the WCHL started. Pretty simple but as with most excellent ideas, challenges emerged. When Todd Pasant passed away, rather than have his monumental dream die, the players carried on with the WCHL. Now the dreamer smiles knowing his dream will live on and continue to grow.

In the beginning, the WCHL consisted of 6 players. (The original six players were Todd Pasant, Andy Siwarski, Jason May, Jeff May, Eric Miller, and Joe Crews)

After Todd’s passing, his close friend Andy Siwarski, along with Tom Martin decided to continue Todd’s dream and develop the WCHL into the league that Todd envisioned. The first thing they decided was to play without goalies. That’s right: NO GOALIES!!  This was mainly due to lack of players.

Since then, we have developed a full rulebook making the game fair, entertaining and accessible to all types of different players. After attending a tournament in Toronto, Canada in 2000, we decided to add goalies to make it another exciting aspect of our games.

Todd’s ultimate dream was for the WCHL to become a national league. Who knows, one day that dream may come true. All the WCHL’s players are proud to be fulfilling Todd’s vision.

 

Chris Lemieux

A Message from the Commissioner

I have had the pleasure to be the Commissioner of the WCHL since the 2004-05 Season.

I am 29 years old and I have a form of Muscular Dystrophy called Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  I have never stood or walked and have used an electric wheelchair since I was three years old. I have limited strength and mobility, but since the age of 9, I have been playing wheelchair hockey.

If you are disabled and have limited strength or mobility, there are few sports you can play. I have been a sports fanatic all my life and over the years I have tried many sports including boccia, baseball, powersoccer, bowling & swimming.  None of these sports offered me what I wanted. They are all great sports, but I felt that these sports were either individual sports or so far adapted it wasn’t “real” enough for me.

The WCHL is as close to a NHL for wheelchairs as you’re going to get.  Hockey, for me, has given me a competitive hockey league that is both mentally and physically stimulating and focuses on teamwork, camaraderie and sportsmanship.  Ever since I was a kid and even to this day, when I play in a WCHL game it gives me the sense of belonging and acceptance knowing I was part of a team.  I can only hope that I can continue to pass on that same feeling to all my current and future players. “Don’t Just Sit There, Play Hockey!”

Chris Lemieux
WCHL Commissioner

Guest Post

Written on 2011/05/12 by:

Guest Post

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