Airdrie native adapts quickly to world of sledge hockey
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, May 01, 2014 06:00 am
Ever since he was born, Airdrie resident Jake Fowlie has been around the hockey rink, but he was unable to play the sport he loves because he has cerebral palsy.
That all changed this fall for the 16 year old, as he was able to take to the ice for the first time with the Calgary Venom sledge hockey team.
“I just wanted to be on the ice like my brother Cody, who played for the (Western Hockey League’s) Kelowna Rockets,” Fowlie said.
“I was so excited when I was able to get out there for the first time, though I noticed that my arms were getting tired really quickly from using the sticks to move around,” he added.
“However, I’ve gotten better at that, and I have had a lot of fun.”
As Fowlie has been taking to the ice for the Venom this season, he has been a quick learner of sledge hockey, which is something that the team’s Head Coach Alan Halbert has noticed first hand.
“He’s been super awesome to have around the rink,” Halbert said. “He’s a team player that always has a big smile on his face.”
“In fact, he’s also come out to play with the Calgary Stingers intermediate team, and he’s been able to jump right in with those guys,” he added. “He’s someone that has adapted quickly and is ready to move on to that level.”
Jake’s mom Deannie has also watched her son develop over the course of the season, and is very proud of how Fowlie has grown both on and off the ice.
“I think it’s been eye-opening for him to see the young men and women on the novice and intermediate teams who all come from different backgrounds,” she said.
“When he goes into the locker room and sees the players hanging up their legs on the dressing room hooks and jumping into the sleds, I think it shows him that everyone has their own challenges that they go through.”
“For myself as a parent, it’s been unreal to watch him go out and be able to play,” she added.
“I remember him telling me the sound and the smell of the ice when he played for the first time in September, as it was really different from what he was used to just watching the games in the stands.”
Fowlie’s first year as a sledge hockey player finished up on a winning note on April 6 in Leduc, as he and his Venom teammates won the gold medal at the Western Canadian Sledge Hockey Tournament.
“That was really awesome,” Fowlie said. “We all had a lot of fun during that weekend, and to end up winning the tournament was pretty amazing.”
“There was a real eagerness by the players to come out and do well in that tournament,” Halbert added.
“They all did really well, and it was like winning the Stanley Cup for them when the tournament ended.”
Looking towards the future, Fowlie is planning to continue to play sledge hockey, with a long-term goal of being able to have a chance to represent his country.
“I would love to play in the Paralympics for Canada when I’m older,” Fowlie said.
“That’s something that would be awesome to take part in, and I’m going to work hard to achieve it.”