Four Fort McMurray Volt Hockey players will travel to Gävle, Sweden in September to compete with Team Alberta in the Volt Hockey World Cup.
Volt hockey has chairs placed low to the ground. The chairs are operated by a joystick and a blade attached to the front of the chair allows the athlete to control the ball. The chair is an accessible design that allows people with limited upper mobility to play hockey.
Joshua Fitzpatrick, one of the players who will compete, said in an interview that he is excited to compete in Sweden.
Fitzpatrick wears number 55 as a St. Louis Blues deceman Colton Parayko, who roomed with the Fitzpatrick family during his time playing with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. He said his favorite part of volley hockey is scoring goals and being able to go fast.
“I’m a little bit nervous about everything that’s going on in the world, but I’m excited about it. The opportunity to just be able to go is pretty amazing,” said Joshua’s mother, Barbara. “It seems unreal to be honest.”
Fitzpatrick joined volto hockey this spring and has already competed in a tournament in Calgary. He took home silver.
“He loves to drive things,” Barbara said. “I knew he would love it right away because he loves to drive anything like that.”
Fort McMurray players Olivia Norman, Blake Fielder and Stephen Liu will also join Fitzpatrick while in Sweden. On Friday, Fitzpatrick will go to Edmonton to train with the rest of the team before traveling to Sweden. Teams from Canada, Sweden, USA, Norway, Denmark and Germany will also compete in the World Cup.
“Anyone can play volley hockey, so it really gives a chance for individuals with disabilities to play with their friends or their siblings who are able bodied and it really puts everyone on a level playing field,” said Jacey Gamroth, volley hockey coordinator with Variety-The Children’s Charity of Alberta.
“It also gives individuals with disabilities a common ground to come together and compete together and play a sport, especially those who have disabilities that make many sports inaccessible.”
Variety has been running volto hockey in Edmonton and Calgary for about a year. The Fort McMurray program launched in January. Gamroth said families who have signed up in Fort McMurray have shown a commitment to the sport.
“Our Fort McMurray families and individuals involved in volto hockey are just so eager and outgoing and really involved in this sport, which is great for us to see,” she said.
Variety hopes to continue growing the sport in Fort McMurray, run another session for youth and have an adult team. As the program expands within the province, Gamroth said they hope for more league play and to be able to host more tournaments.