WESTFIELD, Ind. – There’s a team that gives kids a chance to learn the game of hockey, and they’re breaking barriers each time they shoot the puck. It’s not just about the game for the Indy Twisters, but the lessons that reach further than the ice rink.
Michael Fleming doesn’t coach from outside the rink. You’ll find him on Sunday afternoons at the Arctic Zone with his skates laced up and ready to teach. He helps call the shots on the ice for the Indy Twisters Hockey team.
“I took one practice, and I was hooked,” said Fleming, “The looks on a lot of these kids’ faces when they learn something new is awesome. We have a lot of helpers come out.”
The team of nearly 40 kids range from as young as 5 years old to in their 20s. The players practice and compete in tournaments.
“It’s just like any other team,” Fleming explained.
But with each goal, there’s an extra victory. As the Indy Twisters is a team made up of kids with special needs.
“We work with special needs kids, and we basically teach them the game of hockey,” said Fleming. “Autism, Asperger’s, anywhere on the spectrum.”
Nine-year-old Dovid-Meir Goldstein likes to encourage his teammates on the ice.
“If you’re new, you’re learning usually a different thing but if you’ve been there for a while then you’re learning something you already know, but just making it better,” said Goldstein.
It’s Goldstein’s positive attitude that his coaches say is just as important of a skill as his skating.
“We work on a lot of teamwork type stuff,” said Fleming. “The kids have to play as a team, they have to look for their buddies and give them the puck at times too.”
Fleming says a program like this is rare because hockey is an expensive sport. One season can cost upwards to $15,000 for the Indy Twisters. Fortunately, the players don’t have to worry about the price thanks to fundraisers and donations. Fleming says the hockey community in central Indiana is very generous to helping their team.
“It’s an expensive sport number one, so everything is provided. Equipment, ice time, all of that type of stuff,” said Fleming.
As long as people continue to help, Fleming says they’ll continue to show kids what it takes to be an Indy Twisters hockey player.
“We’ve all been given great gifts, we need to give back. Everybody needs to help,” said Fleming.
Click here to support the Indy Twisters Hockey Team.