SuperHEROS Spotlight: Lincoln

Dec 6, 2022 | News, SuperHEROS

Only a true hockey player could sit in the California sunshine, about to go to a world-class amusement park and say, “Dad, I don’t want to miss practice today.” But that’s exactly what Lincoln, a grade 9 student and SuperHEROS player in Vancouver, said on his family vacation last year.

“Like any parent, I just want my kid to have fun,” said Lincoln’s dad Lance, who is happy to have found a program that provides a warm and welcoming environment for Lincoln to play and grow in.

In 2018, HEROS identified a gap in hockey programming – in western Canada, there was nowhere for youth living with physical and cognitive challenges to play the sport in a safe and welcoming environment. In response, the SuperHEROS program was created, providing players with an adapted on-ice curriculum and opportunities to share the hockey experience with HEROS teammates and youth from other communities.

The program has seen tremendous growth since it’s launch, now offering programs in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg. Each city has a team of dedicated volunteer mentors to support the players as they work towards their own unique vision of success.

“For young people living with a disability, playing in a traditional hockey program can really be a challenge. Not everyone learns at the same pace, and coaches don’t have the time to make sure all 20 players are caught up,” said Lance. “That’s what’s so special about SuperHEROS. The coaches get to spend one-on-one time with each player, adapting the practice to fit their needs.”

Since starting with SuperHEROS in the fall of 2021, Lincoln has greatly improved his on-ice skills, becoming a stronger skater, learning how to handle the puck and even developing one heck of a shot. But Lincoln’s on-ice skills aren’t the only thing he’s developed since starting with SuperHEROS.

“Lincoln is usually quite guarded around new adults but has started to open up with his coaches – he loves them,” said Lance, describing how three coaches in particular – coaches Dori, Justin and Norm –   have had an impact on Lincoln. “Now he’s in high school and he’s flourishing because they’ve helped him bring his confidence up.”

SuperHEROS not only provides benefits to the players, but to the parents as well. Just ask Lance.

“I think parents love it because it gives them a chance to be hockey parents, to see their child enjoy themselves and get to play the game,” said Lance. “For me, I didn’t know if Lincoln would ever play hockey, but now we get to go every week. It’s become a father-son activity that we look forward to every Sunday.”

HEROS’ Executive Director Kevin Hodgson echoes that sentiment.

“Each week we see the stands full of parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family members. It’s not always easy to go to an aquarium or a mall when someone you love lives with a disability. SuperHEROS provides that safe, inclusive space for the players and their families to come and enjoy time together,” said Kevin.

Now, almost halfway through his second season as a SuperHEROS player, Lincoln isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, and we can’t wait to see what incredible things he can accomplish – both on, and off the ice.

“When you hear Kevin or Norm talk about how it’s ‘Bigger Than Hockey,’ it’s absolutely true,” said Lance. “This is so much more than hockey. It’s a life skills program and it makes the players feel special.”

If you want to help build something bigger than hockey for more SuperHEROS like Lincoln, be a hero for a HERO by making a donation or signing up to volunteer today.