As the WCHL says, “Don’t Just Sit There, Play Hockey!”
By Chris Lemieux
The Wheelchair Hockey League (WCHL) is Michigan’s only adaptive floor-hockey league. The purpose of this league is to provide an appropriate means for persons in wheelchairs to have the opportunity to play in a competitive floor hockey league and have the chance to engage in the camaraderie and excitement of our sport. The league includes players in power and manual wheelchairs and currently has 40 players, divided into four teams.
The WCHL was developed and is operated by the players themselves, with the assistance of parents and volunteers. The players—both male and female—range in age from 10 to 60+. They have a variety of disabilities that include muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, arthrogryposis, and osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bones). The league allows players with physical disabilities who do not have the strength to play sports, such as sled hockey or wheelchair basketball, to engage in a competitive sports league. The games are played 4 on 4, with goalies; the season is 12 weeks long, played over the course of nine months (October through June), and culminates with two playoff rounds of best-of-three games to decide their Wheelers Cup Champions.
The Wheelchair Hockey League is one of many wheelchair hockey leagues, including ones in Toronto (TPWHL and CEWHA), Minneapolis, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Calgary. We compete against these leagues bi-annually with our travel team, the Michigan Mustangs, who are the 2011 United States Champions and back-to-back North American Silver Medalists (2010 and 2012). We will be heading to the 2014 North American Cup in Minnesota July 21-24, 2014.
The WCHL holds many annual events throughout the year, including an All-Star Game, awards banquet, and a Game On Ice. We are not only a hockey league; we serve as a social community for players, their families and volunteers. And we are more than a hockey league; we’re a family. Our motto is “Don’t Just Sit There, Play Hockey!”