Adaptive hockey team scores Sharks donation

Shannon Coan, Staff Reporter

Sequoia’s Adaptive Physical Education Class received a $30,000 donation from the San Jose Sharks as part of the Shark Foundation’s Big Give Program, Dec. 22, to fund their ice hockey team.

Special Education teacher Rebeca Goodwin created Sequoia’s adaptive hockey team three years ago after discovering a grant for special needs students. The hockey team, originally started as an alternative to the normal adaptive physical education class, is now offered to any student with an Individualized Education Plan.

“For some kids with autism, when they get on the ice, their [uncontrolled] movements go away,” Goodwin said.

The Sharks’ donation sustained the adaptive team’s funding, which was exhausted last year. The grant was originally meant for teams solely in Santa Clara County, but ultimately found its way to Sequoia.

The donation provides practice time on the ice from 2016 to 2018, registration for each player to the USA Hockey program, new gear and tickets for all of the players’ families to watch the Sharks play against the Edmonton Oilers in a luxury booth.

“It was really amazing. It was nice that they gave us that much nice stuff,” junior and team goalie Ever Quintanilla said. “[The players] spending the day with us was the best part.”

The Sharks also invited the adaptive team to watch a private Sharks practice. After practice, they visited a locker room where each player received personalized hockey equipment. Sharks player Paul Martin signed jerseys right in front of them before having a private skate session with Sharks players Dylan DeMelo, Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier as well as assistant coaches Steve Spott and Johan Hedberg.
During the skate session, the Sharks players advised and practiced technique with Sequoia’s team.

“I scored on one of the Shark players,” sophomore Jaklyn Kendall said. “It felt like a once- in-a -lifetime opportunity.”

The team practices for more than 4 months during the second semester at Ice Oasis in Redwood City, every Tuesday during 5th period.

According to Goodwin, without the help of other teachers and aides, including Nick Boldrey, Judy Hoja and Luis Ledesma, putting on the players’ skates and getting them to the rink wouldn’t be possible.

To the students, it’s more than just the game that excites them about practice every week.

“It’s good to get out there, have fun, be with your classmates and have a good time,” Quintanilla said.

The adaptive hockey program exposes the students to physical activity that helps develop useful skills that will be useful for the rest of their lives.

“It’s good for their muscle tone, gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It’s a great sport that we aren’t exposed to very much here in the Bay Area,” Goodwin said.

Some of the students on the team have never been on skates before, but hockey gives these students something to look forward to every week.

“I always liked hockey,” Kendall said, “but I never really realized I loved it until I tried it.”