The Adapted floor hockey kids will grab your heart and suck you in!
The Robins had their eye on the prize last weekend
Editor's Note: The old saying goes, "if you aren't getting better, you're getting worse." If you are a fan of sports and a fan of making it better for players, coaches and other supporters, please take a read at how they should look some day. If you think what I am writing is folly or fantasy, take an hour out of your day and attend an Adapted Floor Hockey game next Winter and you will leave a better player, coach, and fan.
After devoting time to cover the Adapted Floor Hockey state tournament, I received a friendly phone call from a hockey-friend to congratulate YHH on our coverage. He went on to say what an affect Adapted Sports had on a good friend of his. I asked if he had ever been to a game of his friends and he shockingly said no. His friend's team won the state championship last year, and it hit me to write my friend (and bunch more) a note and explain why he can't miss a chance to see it next year.
Adapted Floor Hockey is broken into two divisions CI (Cognitive Impaired) and PI (Physically Impaired). Last weekend, the MSHSL held its 10th annual Adapted Floor Hockey state tournament in Bloomington. YHH covered the event each day both on social media and on our website. We left the gym at Jefferson High School on Saturday with a massive smile on our face and wanted to share why it is vital to attend more Adapted Sports (Floor Hockey) in the future.
In a society obsessed with fame, fortune, and a world record egg - we learned a lot from Adapted players in two short days, which is the polar opposite of what our society implies with people with special needs. Once you crack the world record egg (yes, it cracked), and look closely at Adapted Sports, you can be taught some incredible lessons about these players and as a result, yourself. Here are just a few:
Brett Kosidowski coaches the Dakota Hawks - he serves as the President of the Adapted Sports Coaches Association
Our first take away was easy to spot. All of the kids loved being in the gym with their friends. They ran around the gym with teammates, got into mischief, ate concession food and burned off some adolescent energy. Not much different than the other kids at school. However, here is where the "other kids" could take a cue from these kids. They all knew each other, they all liked each other, and they all got along. We scanned rows of lunchroom tables of players mixed from teams from all over the metro together as one family of hockey players.
The love didn't stop out of the gym. Maple Grove's Mohammed Konneh hugged his opponent before every face-off. Any time a player fell, the game would immediately stop - not by rule - but to make sure everyone was okay before a battle would ensue.
The Adapted community taught this hockey writer what real togetherness is. "Besides coaching and recruiting players, we do our best to integrate mainstream students with our students and team. Our schools take great pride in our Dakota teams," said Brett Kosidowski who coaches the Dakota United Hawks and is the President of the Adapted Sports Coaches Association. Despite an 0-2 record in state, the Dakota fans were relentless with their "let's go Hawks" chant from start to finish.
South Washington gave up this goal, but hung on to beat rival Dakota Friday night
The only thing that is "impaired" with the players in Adapted Floor Hockey is the name. We saw great athletic talent in both the PI (Physical Impaired) and CI (Cognitive Impaired) divisions on Saturday. Brian Jones from the St. Cloud Slap Shots had a lot more than a clap bomb for the state champions. He had great footwork, and some filthy dangles up front for the two-time state champs. Tyler Tinucci had more goals than a Tony Robbins seminar last weekend in Bloomington. He enjoyed scoring, but almost enjoyed it more when his opponent scored - Tinucci would always high-five the other team. One of our favorites was Tre’Von Otey from Brainerd. The freshman forward set the gym on fire with his great moves and rocket shot — a true talent whom we will likely hear a lot more from the next three years.
Tyler Tinucci (South Washington Bolts) and Brian Jones (St. Cloud Slap Shots) showed off their skills last weekend in Bloomington
YHH visits a rink 300+ days a year. Often our venues are highly competitive and have "championship" implications. It is impossible to attend a game without a referee's judgment being questioned. While attending an Adapted game, this will never happen. We saw 14 games last weekend, and not one call was questioned, not one matter was "discussed" and not once was a referee considering retirement.
We sat and wondered when the game got close would a fan or coach come unglued? Nope, with such great teachers on the floor, the coaches and fans fell in line like any outstanding and obedient student would. Thank you, players, for setting a great example of sportsmanship.
This Anoka-Hennepin fan never lost faith Friday in Bloomgington
If you are having a bad day or week, or if you are Vikings fan - go to an Adapted game and your future will brighten. Everyone in the gym is happy.
Credit the coaches and referees for creating a positive environment for the players. No matter what team you are rooting for, you will find players to love. The atmosphere is addicting. "Our team draws from three different high schools and middle schools. But because many of our kids play multiple sports together and most importantly outside of sports they are friends... it is like a family here," said South Washington coach Jeff Figlmiller. Jeff is a Special Ed teacher by day who began coaching four years ago. "If I could do this (coach) full-time, I would in a heartbeat."
You haven't made it to state until you ride a decorated bus!
For most kids, lacing up the shoes (or skates) and playing a sport is "normal." For people with disabilities, it is less typical. Insecurities about being good enough, making friends and fitting in are very real for these players. Showing up and filling the stands for these students is twice as impressive and meaningful.
New Prague took third this year in CI, they won their two games by a score of 27-3!
No shame in showing off your hair, young man!
1. Live Stream All Games - Like the boys' ice hockey state tournament, the MN State High School League should live stream all 14 of its Adapted winner's bracket championship games. Note: Championship games for CI and PI were streamed by Prep Spotlight TV.
2. Intros without helmets - Like their brothers and sisters in ice hockey, players should shed the helmet during introductions and have their moment in the sun. The Adapted's love to show off a little, what better way to give them that moment.
3. Make it a party - On Friday host a dance mixer for all 16 teams, help make this "an event." Disc Jockey, plus disco ball would be a very inexpensive attraction for the Adapted community and a lifetime memory for these athletes.
4. Bring the band - It's the state tournament, bring in the high school band. The MSHSL should "encourage" the pep bands to attend. It's a single edged sword. The players get pumped up, the band goes on a pretty special field trip.
5. No Charge (Students) - The "A" gymnasium at Jefferson was more than half full this weekend...let's not charge student fans who got in the car or jumped on a fan bus to come and cheer on Adapted.
Cheeri them on today!