Parker Wilson: Ice Wheeler
Junior competes in unique hockey league.
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A junior rolls into a room, ice under him and the cool air biting at his neck and hands. The bright lights reflect off of the white floor, and he slides onto the rink.
Parker Wilson, a wheelchair hockey player, practices every Saturday and competes in up to three tournaments a year, along with regular season games.
“I’m in the kids league, unfortunately, for another year. Once I’m eighteen, I can go to the adult league. They’re a bit more competitive,” Wilson said.
Wilson first learned about hockey on YouTube, but then he practices things that are more difficult when he’s actually on the ice. As for the concept of the game, Wilson isn’t completely new to it.
“I picked it up quick, since my old foster family really liked hockey. They introduced me to it, so I knew for the most part what I needed to do,” Wilson said.
With two qualifying tournaments and one national tournament, a lot of practicing goes on. Wilson’s team won the national tournament last year. The adult league travels more than the younger team does, and there’s more of a seriousness to the sport. Once a player has more experience, they can alter their skates and equipment to fit their skill level by moving their skates closer together.
“We kind of sit in a bucket that’s padded, and sometimes the bucket will be a little big, so we have to tape more pads to the inside. Once we’re in there, our legs go out in front of us. There are two metal poles and a footrest, and underneath you, you have two skates, and you can adjust how far apart they are,” Wilson said.
For most, it’s difficult balancing on just your feet with two thin skates, let alone your whole body. There are a lot of new experiences with any sport, and wheelchair ice hockey is something that many haven’t taken part in.
“I’m learning things that I didn’t think I would learn because of hockey,” Wilson said. “Hockey helped me learn more patience.”
Though hockey is a fast paced game, the high speed at which Wilson had to learn helped him understand to look at situations from a different point of view.
“Sometimes, you need to learn to slow down, and analyze what’s going on,” Wilson said.