Second Annual Sled Hockey Fundraiser

The second annual sled hockey fundraiser run by Nicole McGuigan ’18 is coming to a speedy approach. The idea was created when she was volunteering for a sled hockey team near her home in Long Island. The goalie got into an accident in a hockey game, losing one of his limbs. He told McGuigan how sad and depressed he was and how he had “given up on life” – until the local sled hockey team reached out to him and asked if he would like to join. He fell in love with the game, and it saved his life. McGuigan wanted to bring sled hockey to Choate in order to help other athletes. So, last year, McGuigan found a team here in Wallingford, the Gaylord Wolfpack, and by coordinating ice time, the sled hockey team, Choate varsity hockey teams, and the Student Activities and Community Service departments, she was able to create a fundraiser. “I wanted to bring support to a team of strong, amazing athletes who are human beings just like us,” McGuigan said. She continued, “I wanted to help them financially so that they can all continue pursuing their dreams.”

Originally, there was no connection between Choate and the Gaylord Wolfpack, but McGuigan wanted to bring them to Choate’s ice rink, the Remsen Arena, to help and support athletes with disabilities. The Gaylord Wolfpack is linked to the Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford, which helps support athletes with disabilities in all sports. McGuigan’s ultimate goal is to not only help support their hockey team by help raising awareness of their program, but also to help them financially. Also, as a member of the girls’ varsity hockey team at Choate, she explained, “How great it is to combine my passion for ice hockey and helping others enjoy the sport we love and share!”

The Gaylord Sled Hockey Organization consists of a group of extremely dedicated volunteers – they are not paid for working or being part of the organization. The average cost for each individual player’s equipment needs for sled hockey per season is $600. For time on the ice, the cost could be up to $350 per hour. On top of that, the cost of insurance and having a membership in the USA Hockey League is $50. So, with such a large amount of costs to be paid, not only is their support needed from the volunteers, but also the parents, the players, friends, and the community as a whole.

McGuigan brought this fundraiser to Choate last year hoping for bonding and fun between the Gaylord Wolfpack and Choate’s girls’ and boys’ hockey teams. The visiting team taught Choate players about teamwork, perseverance, and overcoming obstacles. According to Gina Driscoll ’20, “I would most definitely participate again because of all the fun I had last year. I loved the learning that happened on and off the ice with the Wolfpack.” She added, “They are truly a force to be reckoned with on the ice. I remember they skated circles around us and tipped over many Choate sleds.”

The second annual sled hockey fundraiser with the Gaylord Wolfpack will take place October 29. McGuigan said, “There’s nothing more satisfying than watching these players wear such big smiles on their faces.”

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