Mercer Special Hockey Program Description
With their first practice on November 14, 2010, Mercer Special Hockey had 13 Players, 7 Coaches and 4 Junior Coaches. Since that first day, the team has grown to over 30 Players, 10 Coaches and more than 20 Junior Coaches. Founded by a group of parents and volunteers, the Mercer Special Hockey program works to provide opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to participate in the sport of ice hockey in a specially-adapted learning environment. Mercer Special Hockey is comprised of over 30 developmentally disabled players (ages 5-adult) across a wide range of abilities -- from advanced to learn-to-skate -- who participate in a brand of the sport known as "Special Hockey."
Approximately 50 Special Hockey teams exist in more than 30 U.S. cities as part of the American Special Hockey Association. ASHA helps disabled children and adults to develop characteristics such as dependability, self-reliance and confidence through their participating in hockey.
Today, there are more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. living with developmental disabilities -- from Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, to mental retardation and a host of neurological disorders. Unfortunately, New Jersey leads the nation in one of the most well-known forms of developmental disabilities: Autism. According to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control study, 1 in 94 children living in New Jersey have Autism.
The Bulldogs' coaching staff is comprised of 10 Adult Coaches and Volunteers. Our Junior Coaches are high school-aged players who play in traditional hockey programs. These "junior coaches" assist the coaching staff on-ice, enabling a low player-to-coach ratio and fostering an environment in which hockey players from all walks of life can come together to learn and form meaningful relationships.
Mercer Special Hockey has a regular Sunday morning practice slot, 7:30 - 8:30 am , at the Mercer County Park Skating Center, from November through March. Mercer Special Hockey relies on dedicated volunteers and annual fund-raising efforts to operate.