YARMOUTH, N.S. – The recent March Break at the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth was a chance for people to give sledge hockey a go and, judging from the participation level, there seems to a good level of interest in the sport.
Thirteen sledges were available for use, 12 of them owned by the Yarmouth Shelburne Municipal Recreation Association, the other belonging to the Mariners Centre.
“We’ve had 13 people every day this week,” said Natalie Surette d’Entremont, director of recreation services with the Argyle Recreation Department. “We’ve had different people every day come in. A few came twice.”
Interviewed at the Mariners Centre on March 16 – as the last of the week’s daily, hour-long sledge hockey sessions was in progress – she said the sport is becoming better known.
She recalled when the first Yarmouth try-it session for sledge hockey was offered three years ago, saying things have progressed since then.
“It’s definitely gaining momentum,” she said. “When we first started this ... we had a hard time getting people to really know what the sledge sport was about. People were saying ‘well, I’m not disabled. I don’t have a disability, therefore it isn’t for me.’”
But it’s really for anybody, she said, whether they are able-bodied or have a disability.
“And this time around,” she said, “it seems we could have had another week – or another hour every day – because we’ve had people asking if we were booked.”
It’s also an activity for just about all ages, from young children to adults, she said.
The sledges cost about $1,000 apiece.
The March Break sessions in Yarmouth happened to coincide with the Paralympics in South Korea, where – just as the last Yarmouth session was being held – Canada was preparing for the gold-medal sledge hockey game.
“It’s been nice to see the popularity (of the sport) grow,” Surette d’Entremont said.
Last year the Mariners Centre renovated its benches and boards to promote sledge hockey and make the transition easier between ice hockey use and sledge hockey use in its main arena.