I am a Hockey Player

#HockeyChangesLives

Spotlight Player

Shawn Hewson

Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey

“If you are to persevere in your struggles and overcome obstacles, it is essential to step out of your comfort zone. This allows you to grow in strength, confidence, and courage over time. Be honest with who you are and what you need, because at some point in time, “getting by” isn’t good enough anymore.

Hockey is a difficult sport to play, but I love the challenge it presents because it empowers me over my Usher Syndrome to a higher level. And in turn, it is my hope that will inspire others who are struggling with any kind of disability to step out of their comfort zone.”
-Shawn Hewson, Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey

For people with disabilities, the journey to becoming a hockey player is anything but easy. Shawn Hewson, of the Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey team shares his journey with passion and purpose. Being both low-vision and low-hearing, Shawn is no stranger to challenges. His achievements come, not in spite of those challenges, but because of them, and through his determination to adapt and overcome. He has experienced great triumphs. He is father to two girls, a new dog dad to Comet the service dog, AND he is a prospering hockey player.

Thank you, Shawn. For your infectious ambition that effectively inspires everyone you touch. You make the world better for so many people, just by being you.

Q: Tell us about when, how and why you first became a hockey player.

A: I grew up in a small town, Lindstrom, Minnesota, and often skated on the local rinks with friends and cousins. Sometimes we’d join a pickup hockey game in progress with a bunch of kids of which was very difficult for me to follow the puck. I never played organized hockey but I always followed the North Stars, Wild, and Gopher hockey throughout the years. I attended St. Cloud State University for my college years, and that was the time Herb Brooks became their hockey head coach as they joined the WCHA. I remember Herb came to our dorm and gave an inspirational speech to rev up the fan base as they embarked on their opportunity to play at the next level against the likes of the MN Gophers and WI Badgers. In early October 2018, I was made aware of the MWBH program through a communication from the Twin Cities Chapter for the Blind. My wife, Sharon, posted the ‘Try Blind Hockey’ communication on my Facebook timeline of which she wrote, “Now where are Shawn Hewson’s skates…..?”. After a couple days of being half serious about this, it dawned on me that this was the perfect opportunity to play a team sport in a friendly environment with other sight-impaired players, be involved with the Minnesota Wild, and grow my connections in the blind community.

Q: What do you love the most about playing hockey?

A: Playing a team sport in an atmosphere filled with understanding, com- passion, and an incredible supporting cast of people involved with the MWBH program and beyond. As a member of the MWBH team, I don’t have to pretend I can see well in order to feel like I belong, but instead, I can be myself and enjoy the game to it’s fullest. That is something I wasn’t able to do as a kid and I loved to ice skate. Hockey is a difficult sport to play, but I love the challenge it presents because it empowers me over my Usher Syndrome to a higher level. And in turn, it is my hope that will inspire others who are struggling with any kind of disability to step out of their comfort zone.

Q: What is your greatest hockey memory?

A: Winning the gold medal being a part of Team North in the 2019 Toyota- USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival in Tampa, Florida. I was then offered the opportunity to write about my experience of which was published in several different media avenues:
1. Minnesota Hockey newsletter (Mission Tampa)
2. Foundation Fighting Blindness’s Beacons of Hope (Blind Miracle on Ice)
3. Usher Syndrome Society (News section)

Right around the time I joined MWBH in October 2018, my life story was published for the the Usher Syndrome Society of which I had written the following:

“If you are to persevere in your struggles and overcome obstacles, it is essential to step out of your comfort zone. This allows you to grow in strength, confidence, and courage over time. Be honest with who you are and what you need, because at some point in time, “getting by” isn’t good enough anymore.”

Tampa Gold was the perfect example of stepping WAY out of my comfort zone in playing my very first organized hockey games (in my lifetime, and in a festival 1,600 miles away from home), overcoming my anxieties, and persevering to a championship run along with new connections and friendships that I never could have dreamed of.

Q: What is your greatest NON-Hockey related memory?

A: Becoming a dad. My wife and I are blessed with 2 beautiful daughters, Sadie, and Siena. There’s nothing that compares to seeing and holding your newborn for the first time. It’s certainly not an easy task being a parent, but the rewards are plentiful. My daughters inspire me to be the best I can be because I love them with all my soul. To add to our family, just recently I received by first guide dog, Comet, from the Leader Dog for the Blind school in Michigan. Due to COVID, the school offered home delivery and training right here in my own stomping grounds. The decision to apply for a guide dog is not an easy one because it is life-changing. This was another example of stepping out of my comfort zone in accepting this new way of life. Caring for your guide dog is like caring for your children because it requires discipline and commitment. Once I got over my anxieties, I realized how much Comet has opened up my field of vision and I can now enjoy more of the view around me. That is the biggest contrast to using my cane as I was more focused on watching where I was going. Comet also brings a level of companionship that is priceless, albeit my teammate off the ice.

Q: What do your teammates mean to you?

A: My teammates give me a sense of belonging and friendship. Together, we have changed Disability to disAbility by simply playing a game we love. We are not competing against each other, but rather supporting each other.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not playing hockey?

A: I love bowling. I used to be in several bowling leagues and our teams won many championships over the years. I even played alot of golf being in a league as well as with my golfing buddies. When my two daughters were born (2010, 2011), my attention shifted to being the best dad I could be despite the challenges of my Usher Syndrome, and therefore I didn’t play sports as much. But I love being a dad and taking family trips with our daughters, especially to water parks! I am really looking forward to our future family vacations as well as attending activities my daughters are involved in.

I also enjoy sharing my story of perseverance over Usher Syndrome in my involvements with Usher Syndrome Society, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Twin Cities Chapter for the Blind, the Disability Network at my workplace (Travelers), and the MWBH program. The past couple years, I have been the Walk Chair for the Twin Cities Visionwalk of which raises awareness and funds to find a cure for all kinds of vision loss. This Fall, I will again be the Walk Chair and for the first time in the Twin Cities 15- year Visionwalk history, a guide dog (my guide dog, Comet) will be co- Chair!

Q: If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

A: Peyton Manning or Kent Hrbek. I’m a lifelong sports fan and certain athletes stood out in my eyes over the years in various sports as being humble and true role models for kids to follow. They inspired me to promote sportsmanship, encouragement, and positivity whenever I play sports. I was very competitive when I was younger and as I got older and my vision worsened, my perspective changed on sports in a better way. Having role models allows us to see what that truly looks like.

Q: Who is/are your favorite Minnesota Wild player(s)?

A: Darby Hendrickson. That is why I chose his #14 for my MWBH jersey. And out of pure coolness, my Team North teammate on defense switched with me his #14 jersey to wear in our gold medal game in Tampa! Just prior to Tampa, I had met Darby at the HF Festival in February 2019 where he was passing pucks to me back and forth in front of a crowd. And just when I didn’t think I could top that off, I was honored to be asked to play for Team USA in the NHL Alumni-Team USA game at TRIA in August of that same year. The irony of that was Darby and Danny Hendrickson were playing on the NHL Alumni team. WOW, an organized hockey game playing against my favorite Minnesota Wild player and his brother, as well as all the other great alumni’s. What an awesome experience!

Past Spotlight Players

Jimmy Trenary
Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey

From Jimmy’s mom, Kris…

Being a part of sled hockey has given Jimmy the opportunity to be a valuable member of a team, which isn’t always easy when someone has a disability. These kids cheer each other on, empathize with challenges, get frustrated, get emotional and most of all, come together as one! Jimmy has learned to win humbly, lose gracefully and knows that the play is more important than the outcome. He is a proud member of the sled hockey team. With two older kids in hockey, we had come to love and depend on our Kennedy hockey family. They are so important to us. When we learned about sled hockey, we wanted Jimmy to have the same opportunities. We were immediately embraced by this amazing group of people. We now have another amazing hockey family who supports and encourages us! It can be isolating to have a child with special needs, so our sled hockey family is a built-in support group that fields questions, empathizes and understands the unique challenges we sometimes face. Watch sled hockey kids get ready to get on the ice. IT takes a true village, and watching all parents pitch in is just an example of the family we have through MN Sled hockey. We’re blessed.

Q: Tell us about when, how and why you first became a hockey player.
A: We are a hockey family! Both my brothers played hockey Kennedy. We have a friend who played for the Wounded Warriors, and told us about sled hockey. Since I have Spina Bifida, I couldn’t play regular hockey and it sounded like fun. I tried it the day before my 8th birthday and was hooked! Coach Tony made me feel like a rockstar on my first day. I enjoy every practice!

Q: What do you love the most about playing hockey?
A: I like competing with all my friends.

Q: What is your greatest hockey memory?
A: I loved watching the older team win nationals when we were in Chicago, but even more, I loved going to play in the national tournament in Florida with my team!

Q: What is your greatest non-hockey related memory?
A: This is still hockey related, but getting the chance to plant the stick at the Minnesota Wild game is something I will never forget.

Q: What do your teammates mean to you?
A: They make me laugh and we are all really different but hockey brings us close together. They are really funny! We all have reasons why we are on sled hockey and that is kind of cool.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not playing hockey?
A: Fish! I also watch Youtube and play Xbox.

Q: If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
A: Stradman. He is a car Youtube guy. He talks about super cars and hyper cars.

Q: Who is/are your favorite Minnesota Wild player(s)?
A: Zucker has always been my favorite, but since he left I really like Kaprizov. He is fun to watch.

Krist Francisco aka Zeus, Franky
Minnesota Warriors | Twin Cities Black

Kristopher “Zeus” Francisco. Medically retired from the 101st and standout member of the Minnesota Warriors Hockey Team since 2013. Zeus is living proof in our mantra at HF, Hockey Changes Lives. In service to our country, Zeus sustained life-altering injuries, earning him one of the military’s most recognized and respected medals, the Purple Heart, for his sacrifice, bravery and valor. Despite his great sacrifices and subsequent new perimeters and adversity he lives with, Zeus lives his life with a positive outlook and infectious sense of humor. Hockey has become his most effective place for post-combat therapy; with his fellow Warrior teammates at the core, and one of the driving forces in his journey through those arduous days. In turn, he continually perseveres, and has transpired into a mentor and leader among his Minnesota Warrior comrades and teammates. His journey inspires… and not just those of us who know him first-hand, but those individuals who may not yet know him, but who watch from afar and face a similar, arduous road ahead. Keep the hope, as Zeus has. Thank you, Zeus, for all that you have given and all that you continue to give to this great hockey family and beyond.

Q: Tell us about when, how and why you first became a hockey player.
A: I joined the Warrior’s about 8 or 9 years ago when I did a radio interview for another veteran organization and the interviewer led me to the Warrior’s. It was a different (and for me, more effective) and therapeutic way to heal mentally from being combat wounded.

Q: What do you love the most about playing hockey?
A: The camaraderie for sure, in the locker room, on the ice would be probably the best aspect. Coupled with seeing your teammates progress and enjoy the same therapy while doing something many said we shouldn’t or couldn’t do with injuries and disabilities from the service.

Q: What is your greatest hockey memory?
A: There are plenty!! One that sticks out would be going 0 and 20 on a league season knowing other teams were sandbagging. But we had the funnest time on the ice and off the ice and still seeing progression in individuals and the team as a whole.

Q: What is your greatest non-hockey related memory?
A: Thats a tough one… Waking up in an Army hospital with, a) being alive and b), still having my leg. And the day I got a dog. There are plenty non-hockey good memories!!

Q: What do your teammates mean to you?
A: They mean the difference between getting up the next day excited because you get to progress with them on and off the ice and getting up a hollow shell.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not playing hockey?
A: Workout, make funny pre workout shenanigans videos, fish, hunt, some woodworking. Anything that keeps me active, positive and learning.

Q: If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
A: If we’re talking celebrities, Chris Pratt. I think we may have similar life out-looks and I could pick his brain about being a marvel hero. If we’re talk-ing like deep meaningful people – not that Mr. Pratt isn’t. Any ancestors, like Abe Lincoln, or some ancient ruler or influential person. Who wouldn’t want to ask a billion questions from those of the past to help navigate your future?!

Q: Who is/are your favorite Minnesota Wild player(s)?
A: Not in order, (former) Boogaard, Koivu, Clutterbuck, Zucker, Coyle (Current) Spurgeon, obviously Kaprizov, and Brodin

Elizabeth “Biza” Peterson
Minnesota Wild Special Hockey, Edina

She skates, she boards, she swims, she runs, she plunges, she writes, she speaks, she leads… there are few things the multi-talented, multi-faceted Biza Peterson does not do. With a list of activities and Special Olympic qualifications about a mile long, Biza greets each day with determination and drive, giving her ALL to everything she takes on. Her enthusiasm and go-getter attitude have made her a positive addition to the Minnesota Wild Special Hockey team where she plays hockey not just to win, but for her teammates, who she says are “almost like family”. The encouragement and support she shares with the athletes on the ice next to her, and sometimes across from her on the opposing team, have helped her to seize a greater self-confidence. “Winning trophies is great,” she said “…but it’s not everything.” It’s the moments she spends with her team, crammed together on a bus, EnRoute to a hockey tournament, that have impacted her the most.

Biza, you are a champion. The positive influence you have on everyone around you, will bring you infinite greatness.

Q: Tell us about when, how and why you first became a hockey player.
A: My mom told me that there was a hockey team for people with disabili- ties and I was thrilled. She found out about it from another mom at a gathering. So told I my mom to sign me up. I knew I loved hockey be- cause I played when I was in 1st and 2nd grade.

Q: What do you love the most about playing hockey?
A: Being with my friends and playing in tournaments. I also love learning to skate better and faster.

Q: What is your greatest hockey memory?
A: Riding the bus with my team to the hockey tournaments, and staying in the hotels with swimming pools and celebrating with my team makes all weekend long.

Q: What is your greatest non-hockey related memory?
A: Doing the Polar Plunge.

Q: What do your teammates mean to you?
A: They are almost like my family because we care about each other and support each other and encourage each other.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not playing hockey?
A: I like to stay active doing many other sports such as snowboarding, karate, tennis, swimming and hanging out with my friends, and playing video games. In the summer, I love to go to Valley Fair with my friends.

Q: If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
A: Shaun White because he is an amazing snowboarder and I love to snow- board, too. He is so brave and daring and talented!

Q: Who is/are your favorite Minnesota Wild player(s)?
A: Zach Parise. In a hockey game at Braemar between my team and some of the Wild Players, he was on my team! So fun!

Amanda Franklin
Minnesota Warriors

Next time you’re at a Warrior game and you see a long ponytail whipping around underneath one of the helmets; pay attention. It belongs to US Army veteran, Amanda Franklin, one of the few ladies who plays with the Minnesota Warriors. Born into a hockey family, Amanda’s Dad and her two older brothers had her in skates on the outdoor rinks when she was just two years old. Following in her brother’s footsteps, she played hockey all through her youth, until she joined the military and pledged to serve our country as a combat medic. Amanda found her way back to hockey when she was introduced to the Warriors. It was there that she’s found not just a team, but a support system and a safe space, free from any judgement. As she says, “no veteran in the program has gone through the exact same thing, but we all show up for each other because we ended up at the same place.” Amanda leads by example and sends a resounding message, not just to the veterans, but to the ladies out there who want to play – do not let your fears hold you back from trying. There is a place for you in this great game. “Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.” Thank you, Amanda, for being one of them and for inspiring others through your strength and courage.

Q: Tell us about when, how and why you first became a hockey player.
A: Growing up, I had two older brothers that played hockey. My mom didn’t want me following in their footsteps, so when she was at work, my dad took me to the outdoor rink in Scandia. I was 2 years old at the time and I have been skating ever since.

Q: What do you love the most about playing hockey?
A: There is a lot I love about hockey, but I appreciate my teammates and the camaraderie the most.

Q: What is your greatest hockey memory?
A: When I was in 9th grade, my team and I made it to the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament and played at the Excel Energy Center.

Q: What is your greatest non-hockey related memory?
A: My most cherished memory are the phone calls with my dad during basic combat training and advanced individual training.

Q: What do your teammates mean to you?
A: Not only are they my support system, but a few of my childhood team- mates became family.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not playing hockey?
A: Outside of hockey, I enjoy playing other sports such as basketball, soccer, tennis, baseball, football, volleyball, etc. I also enjoy longboarding, skate- boarding, snowboarding, taking my dogs on walks, going to the dog park, playing card games/board games and bonfires.

Q: If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
A: I would like to meet Justin Bieber. What can I say, I have always been a fan.

Q: Who is/are your favorite Minnesota Wild player(s)?
A: Kevin Fiala.

Sebastien Nevalainen
Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey

He was a hockey player before he even tried it. Armed with a visceral desire to play and be part of the team, Sebastien embodies what we like to call “sportsmanship”. He brings honor, sincerity, and pushes forward into what could be possible.

Born in Haiti, now living in the great State of Hockey, Sebastien has endured a tremendous amount of change in his seventeen years. New culture, new home, new school, new friends…his journey has been filled with new-ness and diversity. Despite many challenges along the way, Sebastien has been triumphant through much adversity. When opportunities present, Sebastien rises to the occasion with heart and then pushes forward into what may be possible. He is active in Nordic skiing, track and field, attends wheelchair sports camps and in his quiet time, enjoys reading and writing scripts. Currently in his third season playing for Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey, Sebastien is thriving on the ice as part of the team. Like his favorite MN Wild players, Zach Parise and Jordan Greenway, Sebastien’s favorite part about hockey is, “being a playmaker and setting his teammates up to score.” Sebastien and his parents describe the sled hockey community as their “hockey family” where they’ve been not only welcomed, but also supported through both challenges and victories.

Sebastien, your strength and sincerity inspire, and will serve as a reminder to others when they feel overwhelmed by change, to never, ever give up and always push into what may be possible.

Q: Tell us about when, how and why you first became a hockey player.
A: I first became a hockey player in 2018. This is my third season playing. I first found out about sled hockey at a wheelchair sports camp and loved it! I wanted to play for two years before joining the team.

Q: What do you love the most about playing hockey?
A: My favorite part about hockey is setting my teammates up for goals and being a playmaker. Being on a team has taught me how to work with others more effectively.

Q: What is your greatest hockey memory?
A: One of my greatest hockey memories is scoring a goal for my team against a formidable goalie who had a long shutout streak. Another of my greatest hockey memories is playing in the Hendrickson Festival.

Q: What is your greatest non-hockey related memory?
A: My greatest non-hockey memory is making it to nationals for track and winning a huge relay with my friends.

Q: What do your teammates mean to you?
A: My teammates have taught me all about hockey and they are like my hockey family.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not playing hockey?
A: I like Nordic skiing, reading, writing scripts, and hanging out with friends.

Q: If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
A: I would like to meet Superman because I would enjoy getting to see him bend steel without using heat!

Q: Who is/are your favorite Minnesota Wild player(s)?
A: Zach Parise and Jordan Greenway

Evalyn “Evie” Jones
Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey

Exceptional, eleven year old Evie Jones, was born with harmonic soul. Inspired by music, she can play a plethora of instruments including the piano and cello. She also loves to swim, camp and be active. For people who are blind and/or low vision, fitness and sports can be challenging and adaptive opportunities few and far between. Despite many disappointments, Evie and her family remain positively persistent – always willing to try new things and break through barriers. Being raised in a quintessential hockey family, it was only natural that Evie wanted to play too. A chance encounter between Evie’s family and a Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey family would change their lives forever, as they were introduced to Minnesota’s newest adaptive hockey program, Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey! Evie finally got HER chance to play. And most importantly to her, she’s found that sacred space of belonging, on a TEAM, with new wonderful friends.

We are so proud of you Evie! Keep pushing onward, with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

Q: What do you love most about playing hockey?
A: I love to block shots.

Q: What is your greatest hockey memory?
A: I got to drop the puck for the St. Paul Johnson governers vs highland park hockey game. They had a special game at Tria to raise money for our team, MN Wild Blind Hockey.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not playing hockey?
A: I love music and I play many instruments but I love my piano. I also like to swim and jump on my trampoline.

Q: Where is your favorite place to go for fun?
A: I like to go camping in our pop-up trailer, her name is Amelia.

Q: Who is your favorite super hero?
A: Wonder Woman because she is strong.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: A musician.

Q: Tell us something fun about yourself
A: I am learning to play the cello in orchestra.

Owen Marinkovich
Minnesota Wild Special Hockey

This glorious smile belongs to the one and only, Owen Marinkovich, a player on the Minnesota Wild Special Hockey team. Owen is a fan of Spiderman and Star Wars and he plans to never grow up and stay a kid forever. When Owen is not playing hockey, he is keeping his family and friends entertained with his story telling! Being a part of the program means the world to both Owen AND his supportive family, who also love hockey. Through hockey, Owen has found a TEAM – a place of belonging with his peers and the great joy of being a hockey player. We are so proud of you Owen!

Q: What do you love about playing hockey?
A: Spinning and the puck.

Q: What is your greatest hockey memory?
A: Scoring a goal at the Hendrickson Foundation Hockey Festival in 2019.

Q: Where is your favorite place to go for fun?
A: Disneyland.

Q: Who is your favorite super hero?
A: Spiderman.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: I don’t want to grow up!

Q: Tell us something fun about yourself.
A: My parents say I tell GREAT stories!

Henry Wilcox
Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey

Meet young Henry Wilcox, one of the newest athletes within the Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey program. Five year old Henry was born with spina bifida, and uses a walker and/or crutches for mobility. For Henry’s parents, it is important to find activities that are adaptable to all abilities, where their son can participate and be a part of a team. Henry would have his first experience with sled hockey on the very first day he saw this great game in person. Brimming with excitement, Henry fearlessly took to the ice on borrowed equipment, and he never looked back. He’s found a love for the game, being on the ice and in the center of the action, and most importantly, being a part of a team with other kids “like him”. Beyond the game, Henry’s family found an incredible community who welcomed them with open arms…the hockey family. We are so thankful to Henry’s parents for taking the leap and supporting Henry’s new journey as a hockey player. As for young Henry… we are SO proud of him for his bravery and for proving that hockey is for everyone and hockey changes lives®!

Q: What do you love about playing hockey?
A: Hitting the puck and scoring goals.

Q: What is your greatest hockey memory?
A: When I first got my jersey and was made part of the team. It felt great to be a part of the guys.

Q: What would it be like if you didn’t have hockey & your teammates in your life?
A: I would miss being able to play a sport and be on a team because sled hockey is where I can fit in and do what everyone else is doing.

Q: What do you do when you’re not playing hockey?
A: I like to build blocks, build with magna-tiles, and explore outside.

Q: If you could have a meeting with anyone, would you choose and why?
A: God and Curious George.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
A: I had surgery on my back when I was still in my mom’s tummy.

Eric Rud
Rochester Mustangs Sled Hockey

Eric Rud has been in integral part of adaptive hockey in Minnesota and the outstanding growth within the sled hockey program. He is a veteran sled hockey player, having played at both the state and national levels. Hendrickson Foundation was founded in 2011 by Larry Hendrickson, who surrounded himself with a small group of tremendous people to help get it off the ground…Eric Rud is one of those people. He has been with HF since the very beginning and has been instrumental in growing sled hockey participation at our hockey festival, by fielding and recruiting new teams and players through his passionate advocacy and involvement. Thank You Eric for your valuable role at HF and within the sled hockey community.

Q: What do you love about playing hockey?
A: What I love most about hockey is being able to spend time with my amazing teammates on and off the ice.

Q: What is your greatest hockey memory?
A: My greatest hockey memory is winning my first national championship in Buffalo, NY in 2009 with the twin cities team. It was especially meaningful to me because my Dad was our goalie.

Q: What would it be like if you didn’t have hockey & your teammates in your life?
A: I have amazing teammates. If I didn’t have them in my life, I would not be the same person.

Q: What do you do when you’re not playing hockey?
A: When I am not playing hockey, I am cheering on our professional teams. I am a fan of the Wild, Vikings and Twins.

Q: If you could have a meeting with anyone, would you choose and why?
A: I would like to have a meeting with Zach Parise. We are the same age. I would like to know what he does to stay in shape and play at such a high level.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
A: Most people do not know that I have two college degrees. One in Graphic Design and one in Sport Management.

Joe Meinhardt
MINNESOTA WARRIORS, ST. CLOUD

We are so proud to have our friend Joe Meinhardt in the spotlight this month. A military veteran and devoted father, husband and friend, Joe lives his life guided by faith and a desire to serve. Despite any hardships he has endured in life and through his service to our country, Joe is filled with warmth and positivity, and is willing to share it with others, in any situation. His dedication to lifting people up around him is nothing short of resolute. Thank you Joe, for your continued service to your team and to all of humanity. We feel your presence at HF and we are better because of you.

Q: What do you love about playing hockey?
A: What I love most about playing hockey is being a member of a team. After military service, there are a lot of vets that may fall into isolation due to internal wounds, I was on that path. Hockey revives the spirit of teamwork, cohesion, and brotherhood that is very comparable to those of a military lifestyle. It makes me feel young again!

Q: What is your best hockey memory?
A: As a kid my greatest memory was spending hours at the local outdoor rink, throwing our sticks in the middle, and playing pick up hockey until they shut the lights off at the park. As an adult, my greatest memory so far was a couple of years ago in a tourney we played at out in Las Vegas. It was my first time ever playing organized hockey and I scored 4 goals in my first game. I think we can all remember our first goal and even though it took me 38 years, it was special because I was skating with fellow brothers in arms.

Q: What would it be like if you didn’t have hockey & your teammates in your life?
A: I honestly don’t know where or what I would be doing if I didn’t have hockey or my teammates in my life. Even though our team has only been around for a couple of years, the bond between us guys is almost immediate and lasts a lifetime. My teammates bring a positivity and encouragement that is like no other. We celebrate life accomplishments and great moments together. My teammates have also been by my side through some very difficult times. I think that is what makes hockey so special. It’s like no other sport. You are family from the moment you step foot in the locker room. You have each other’s back no matter what the situation. I find a lot of fulfillment being there for my teammates as well as them being there for me.

Q: What do you do when you’re not playing hockey?
A: When I am not playing hockey, I enjoy being a husband and a dad to 3 great kids, Tyler (16), Myla (9), and Bryce (4). I also enjoy playing golf and have a passion for my faith and serving others. I also enjoy hunting, fishing, traveling and pretty much anything else that will keep me outdoors and active.

Q: If you could have lunch with anyone, would you choose and why?
A: There are a couple people….Pastor Steven Furtick (Elevation Church) because he has so much passion and speaks it in such a unique way that I relate to. My late grandfathers, so I could again tell them thank you for all they have done for me. I would also like to have lunch with every veteran that is struggling to let them know they are not alone.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
A: I once got stuck in a bird sanctuary as a kid and it developed into a lifelong fear of birds, but yet I fill my bird feeders weekly.

Kaleb Lockman
MINNESOTA WILD SPECIAL HOCKEY | BLAINE, MN

Meet Kaleb Lockman! Kaleb is a hockey player all-star in the Minnesota Special Hockey program. Mr. Kaleb lives and breathes hockey, and would play every single day if he could. Kaleb is an absolute gem, sharing joy and his glowing personality and friendly attitude onto all of the people and players he meets. Kaleb and his family are very involved with HF – taking on volunteer roles whenever they can. Kaleb even stepped up as a new HF model this year and he did GREAT! We look forward to seeing Kaleb and his family at the festival each year. Thank you Kaleb for being such a positive part of our hockey family!

Q: WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PLAYING HOCKEY?

A: Scoring

Q: WHAT DOES HOCKEY MEAN TO YOU?

A: My favorite sport! I love hockey

Q: WHAT’S YOUR BEST HOCKEY MEMORY?

A: Going and playing at the Hendrickson Foundation weekend

Q: WHAT DO YOUR TEAMMATES MEAN TO YOU?

A: I love them

Q: WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE HOCKEY OR YOUR TEAMMATES?

A: I would cry

John Neal
Kansas City Warriors

Proud to introduce our June hockey player, Mr. John Neal from the Kansas City Warriors. If you haven’t met him, you likely heard about him at our 2020 festival, where he was a Valor Salute honoree, and one of the Warriors who gave his stick to the Hudson Special Hockey players.

John is a veteran with service related disabilities who, in his desire to support other veterans with disabilities, found his own place of healing. Hockey has become a sacred place of belonging where teammates are like family. A true humanitarian at his core, John serves the community in a number of different facets, making the world a better place every single day. John exemplifies the HF mission, and we are so grateful to have him within our fold.

Q: What do you love most about playing hockey?
A: I love how when I am playing hockey the only thing that matters is my teammates and how I can support them. All the noise is silent and I can just focus on the moment.

Q: What does hockey mean to you?
A: There is something magical about playing warrior hockey. It has this healing power that is unexplainable. Hockey helps me get past my injuries and the struggles I have with PTSD. I am certain it has saved my life.

Q: What’s your best hockey memory?
A: My best hockey moment is the first time I went over the boards to join my team on the ice. It was the moment I arrived as a hockey player. Before that moment it was in and out of the doors. I was so excited, nervous, and happy all at the same time.

Q: What do you teammates mean to you?
A: There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my teammates. They are like family. They are what I was missing in my translation from soldier to civilian. They are my “tribe” and we take care of each other when things get rough. It is unconditional love.

Q: What would it be like if you didn’t have hockey or your teammates?
A: Lonely! My team and hockey have given me so much healing it is hard to explain. When I smile it is real, it is authentic! To be able to do that after all the struggles with injury and PTSD is something miraculous. Without hockey I don’t think I would be nearly as happy and healthy as I am now.

Q: What do you do when you’re not playing hockey?
A: When I am not playing hockey I am blessed to be able to serve disabled veterans through my work with Wounded Warrior Project. I also take time to volunteer. One of my favorite organizations to volunteer with is Midwest Adaptive Sports. I have started a new company with a friend of mine who is a recreational therapist called Hockey Heals L.L.C. Together we hope to ease the fundraising and logistics difficulties of organizing and executing top notch disabled athletic events. Spending time on the lake with my wife and friends is where I want to be for relaxation when I am not on the ice, or serving my community.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
A: One thing about me that others may not know is that I make jewelry, especial bracelets. It started as a way to manage Post Traumatic Stress, but has evolved into a passion and a form of art I can share with others.

Q: If you could have lunch with any one person, who would you choose and why?
A: If I could have lunch with any one person it would be Audie Murphy. I would ask him how he had the courage to do the heroic things he did. I know what his answer would be. Hopefully we would talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Together we could come up with a plan on how we can end the epidemic of 22 veteran suicides a day.

Andrew Roy
Minnesota Special Hockey

Q: What do you love about playing hockey?
A: Great coaches, camaraderie, having fun, good exercise and a good workout!

Q: What is your best hockey memory?
A: Wow, I think there is a lot but if I have to choose, I’d say getting a hat trick during a game against Alexandria in 2019. Second best memory would be meeting Darby!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: Anywhere in the world, I would go to Japan because great culture and good toys! In the US I’d say Lake Placid, New York so that one day, or hopefully someday I could play at the same rink where the 1980 mens hockey team won the gold medal.

Q: What do you teammates mean to you?
A: They mean a lot to me. They are caring, energetic and funny and like me they like to have fun!

Q: What would you miss most if you couldn’t play hockey?
A: Coaches, teammates, going to different places and seeing you guys at HF.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
A: I sing and I have been practicing and playing the guitar for almost 7 years.

Q: What do you do to stay busy during the off season?
A: Going for walks and watching wrestling DVDs so that I can donate them eventually. And of course seeing my dog – he’s a dachshund and he’s a year old.

Preston Bohl
Minnesota Special Hockey – Maple Grove

Q: What do you love about playing hockey?
A: My cellies! (Dad’s translation: Celebrating my goals)

Q: What is your best hockey memory?
A: Goooo Gophers! (Dad’s translation: Attending Gopher hockey games and even skating at one game this year!)

Q: What does hockey mean to you?
A: The big ice, sticks, pucks, it’s all fun!

Q: What do you teammates mean to you?
A: They help me work hard at games.

Q: What would you miss most if you couldn’t play hockey?
A: I would miss wearing my cool equipment and jerseys.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
A: I love playing and wrestling with my brothers Hudson and Easton and skating at St. Louis Park’s donut hockey practices every Friday morning.

Domonic “Dom” Robertson-Cantu
Minnesota Wild Sled Hockey – Goalie

Q: What do you love about playing hockey?
A: The thing I love most about hockey is meeting new people all the time and being able to be part of a team.

Q: What is your best hockey memory?
A: My best hockey memory was scoring my first goal.

Q: What does hockey mean to you?
A: Hockey means leaving behind stress. I get to forget about having cerebral palsy for awhile, and just be a hockey player. I honestly don’t know where I would be without it.

Q: What do you teammates mean to you?
A: My teammates mean everything to me. We are like brothers.

Q: What would you miss most if you couldn’t play hockey?
A: The things I would miss the most if I couldn’t play hockey…. My friends most, traveling with my team, being able to joke around and not be judged because of my disability. We don’t see each others disabilities – we don’t even talk about those things. And the smells. Definitely would miss the smells. 🤣🤣🤣

Q: Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
A: A couple of things people might not know about me. I’m really good at impressions and I can sing like Luis Armstrong.

Camden Plein
Minnesota Wild Special Hockey – Lakeville

Q: What do you love about playing hockey?
A: I love being a part of a hockey team.

Q: What is your best hockey memory?
A: Learning how to skate, and skating on the outdoor rink with my family.

Q: What does hockey mean to you?
A: Having fun and scoring goals

Q: What do you teammates mean to you?
A: Friendships

Q: What would you miss most if you couldn’t play hockey?
A: Because I couldn’t skate around anymore with my team.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
A: I have 2 brothers; one that plays basketball, and one that plays hockey.

Tim & Sandy Loney
Minnesota Warrors Twin Cities (Tim) / Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey (Sandy)

Q: What I love most about playing hockey?
Tim: Scoring goals and getting assists. It’s a lot of fun to make a pass that splits the defense and frees your teammate to go in and beat the other team’s goalie.
Sandy: I love learning how to skate and learning the basics of the game of hockey.

Q: What is your best hockey memory?
Tim: From scoring in Fergus Falls, to being nick named Timber or skating in famous rinks around the state, while great memories, nothing compares as to creating memories for fellow Veterans by developing new teams around the country and then going to play them. I also love to build opportunities for players to play memorable games, be it the Warrior Showcase, Hockey Day Minnesota or playing in the Hendrickson Festival.
Sandy: My best memory is at the MN Blind Summit in August of this year. It was amazing to be a part of a team and also to be a volunteer to help with the event.

Q: What do you teammates mean to you?
Tim: My teammates mean the world to me. They have my back and support me both on and off the ice. I truly believe the Warriors have the best locker room of any sport.
Sandy: My teammates are my inspiration since everyone has challenges they face but they have the most positive attitude. Everyone encourages each other.

Q: What would you miss most if you couldn’t play hockey?
Tim: That’s hard to say. Six years ago I got involved with the Warriors and their growth both locally and nationally has been my primary focus in life. Chris Price, our former president, set a goal of a team in every state and I have to say we are about half way there! With out hockey or the Warriors I’d have to fill a big void in my life.
Sandy: I can’t imagine what it would be like without hockey or my teammates.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
Tim: Tim Loney served over thirty years in the US Army Reserves. He was mobilized three times and deployed twice in his career to Cuba and to Iraq. Prior to joining the Warriors he had not skated on a team since playing intermural Hockey for Army ROTC at the U of M. During the week he is an Outside Sales Representative for Sunbelt Rentals and is their Minnesota District Ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Sandy: I love to plan “fun” events for my co-workers because too much fun is never enough! “Soup-er-bowl, “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” holiday luncheons and Retirement parties are enjoyed by many. In July, I celebrated 40 years of service with the State of Minnesota.

Sara Kigin
Minnesota Wild Special Hockey – St. Cloud

Q: What I love most about playing hockey?
A: Hockey is fun. I love hockey. My room at home is full of hockey stuff. I even have a full size Ryan Suter!

Q: What is your best hockey memory?
A: I love to shoot and score and having friends and family come watch me

Q: What do you teammates mean to you?
A: I really like my teammates. They help me on the ice. They are real nice to me.

Q: What would you miss most if you couldn’t play hockey?
A: I would miss everything about hockey, my teammates my coaches, traveling and tournaments

Q: Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
A: I love to travel I love to play guitar and sing. I’m a good aunt to my nephews. I love lots of sports. I want to meet Ryan Suter!

Hannah Poshek
MN Wild Special Hockey, Alexandria Wild

Q: What I love most about playing hockey?
A: Making new friends.

Q: What does hockey mean to you?
A: Hockey is an extension of my family and I think of every player as family.

Q: What is your best hockey memory?
A: Winning the 2019 MN Special Hockey Disabled Athlete of the Year!

Q: What do you teammates mean to you?
A: I feel like they are my siblings.

Q: What would it be like without hockey?
A: I would be sad, as I would miss my teammates and family.

Nick Boisvert
Minnesota Wild Blind Hockey

Q: What I love most about playing hockey?
A: I love spending time with people that are passionate about the game and being able to connect with people on a level only hockey players understand.

Q: What does hockey mean to you?
A: Hockey is life! Hockey gives me hope, it’s a place I know I belong, and it’s my family.

Q: What is your best hockey memory?
A: This years Summit Team USA against the celebrities I was able to play against Danny and Darby Hendrickson. Darby Hendrickson and me got into a play fight on the ice (Spartan love).

Q: What do you teammates mean to you?
A: My teammates are my family that I get to play hockey with! They’re the ones that show me what it’s like to have a family and belong.

Q: What would it be like without hockey?
A: When I lost my sight I thought I lost hockey forever I tried to find other things to fill the void but nothing worked nothing is like hockey or your teammates. I’m so thankful for MN giving everyone a chance to play.

Evan Hesom
Manitoba Sledgehammers Sled Hockey

Q: What I love most about playing hockey?
A: Having a sport that I can play no matter what my disability.

Q: What does hockey mean to you?
A: Mostly friends and having fun. Mom says-hockey is where Evan can be himself and no one judges, he can be EVAN🤗.

Q: What is your best hockey memory?
A: Scoring goals when I am playing and saving goals when I am the goalie.

Q: What do you teammates mean to you?
A: FRIENDS! They encourage me and cheer me on!

Q: What would it be like without hockey?
A: I wouldn’t be able to play hockey. I would have no friends that understand my disability.

Are you a hockey player who wants to share your story?

Contact Us

2015 Forest Drive West
Richfield, MN 55423
612-308-7575
kristin@hendricksonfoundation.com