Minnesota Warriors: Making memories on and off the ice
From the moment the players walk through the doors of the arena they are part of the team. Part of something more. They are able to step away from daily life and play a game. Being part of this team means knowing they can depend on each other. There is a level of camaraderie that goes without parallel in civilian life. The Warriors hope is to help each one another and other Veterans get through the rough times with the bond that is built on and off the ice.
Cheryl Kelly, Minnesota Warriors Black Team and Women’s Team Captain, Forward, #4
This summer the Minnesota Warriors are developing the first disabled veterans’ women’s team. The goal of developing a women’s team has been something that the organization has thought about for some time and due to a recent donation of hockey equipment from Anoka Youth Hockey and a donation from Operation Hat Trick the women’s team is now becoming a reality. To lead the team on and off the ice the Minnesota Warriors turned to one of their own in Cheryl Kelly. Cheryl spent five years serving as a Combat Medic and as a Logistics Specialist with the U.S. Army’s Medical Command and the Army Reserves. After her time in the military Cheryl took her medical aid and care skills over to the Veterans Affairs as a Licensed Practical Nurse.
When asked about some of the obstacles in developing a women’s team Cheryl replied, “some of the challenges ahead include recruitment, deciding what division we will be best suited to play in and making sure all of our players have everything they need whether it be equipment, development or encouragement.”
Cheryl had an interesting upbringing to the game of hockey and is one of the few players on the Minnesota Warriors who actually started playing in another state. She got her start skating in New Jersey at the age of 6 and started playing competitively on a boys’ team at the age of 10. Last season was Cheryl’s first season playing with the Minnesota Warriors and played on the Black Team in the Minneapolis AHA League. In 18 games Cheryl scored 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points and she added 1 goal and 2 assists in tournament play. Although she maybe small in stature Cheryl has earned a reputation as a feisty winger that isn’t afraid to fight for loose pucks in the corner or in front of the net.
Cheryl said this about the Minnesota Warriors organization, “The comradery and friendship with brothers and sisters on and off the ice. We have fun and support one another; I am very thankful for the opportunity to play with the Warriors.”
The Minnesota Warriors Hockey Program’s mission is to organize and administer an ice hockey program that provides a recreational, therapeutic experience and education to its participants.
The MN Warriors Ice Hockey Program has been organized to operate exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, for wounded, injured, or otherwise disabled veterans of the United States Military, in conjunction with the USA Disabled Hockey Program.
The program educates, trains, motivates, and encourages individuals who have physical disabilities incurred during service to the United States to participate in the sport of ice hockey in an environment that is adapted to the level of ability of the participating athletes. It is designed to integrate people with disabilities with people without disabilities in order to promote awareness of challenges and to encourage team building.
The program uses the game of hockey to assist individuals with disabilities in developing self confidence, adjusting to their new lifestyle, rehabilitation, self-reliance, concentration, and to assist in helping participants back into mainstream lifestyles they were accustomed to prior to their disability, that will help the individual be more successful both within and outside a hockey environment.