Fisher House Foundation proudly supports the USA Warriors by offering flights and hotels for athletes through Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes program. Thom said they cannot do what they do without sponsors. They depend on sponsors like Fisher House to fly members of the team to various locations to play. “Without the ability to fly our players in to play with us... we couldn’t have a team,” Thom said.
USA Warriors Sled Hockey team hit the ice this past weekend at the Rockville Ice Hockey arena. The USA Ice Hockey organization hosted the 2nd Annual Sled Hockey Tournament over three days. The sled hockey team is comprised of wounded and disabled veterans. Teams from New York, Florida, Maine, Ohio, and South Carolina took part in the high-level competition. This is the first time the team has been in real competition for more than 18 months. Besides recent scrimmages the pandemic halted play since early 2020. USA Warriors were undefeated in the tournament, winning in an overtime shoot out against Buffalo.
“Never underestimate them. Never. They always seem to come through,” Coach Thomas Hirsh.
At one point in a game the USA Warriors were losing 2 to 1. Thom says the team was a little dispirited, but he encouraged them by reminding the crew they have been down this road many times before and they have come out ahead.
At the tournament, team sponsors participated in a ceremonial puck drop, including the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Cutlass Engineering, Norton Rose Fulbright law firm, and Fisher House Foundation. The team also received recognition from the office of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
Fisher House Foundation proudly supports the USA Warriors by offering flights and hotels for athletes through Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes program. Thom said they cannot do what they do without sponsors. They depend on sponsors like Fisher House to fly members of the team to various locations to play.
“Without the ability to fly our players in to play with us... we couldn’t have a team,” Thom said.
Retired Air Force veteran Sean Sexton played sled hockey with the team while he was getting treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Sean currently lives in Idaho. He said he would not have been able to attend the event without the support of Fisher House Foundation. Fisher House flew him to the game and put him in a hotel over the duration of the event. His goal is to start an ice hockey program in Idaho.
“Going from being active duty and full-time military doing all of these incredible things all over the world to you are never going to walk again and you need to accept that was really really challenging,” Sean said.
Thom says it gives teammates a sense of being part of another unit. Players like Ryan Lenser from Ohio said his transition was especially difficult after his injury because he lost the close connection with his Marine Corps unit. Ryan says he isolated himself, but his wife encouraged him to join the team after she received an email through DAV. He said joining the ice hockey team saved his life, helped lift him enough to find a new career, and saved his family life. Ryan talks about the first time he got on the ice.
“I went out there and fell over probably 40 times in the hour that I was on the ice. Loved it. I’ve been there since 2014.”
The organization will start sled hockey season in September. The competitions take place in Columbus, Oh., Altoona, Pa., Philadelphia, and north of Baltimore. The program is designed for wounded and disabled veterans but some teams short of the number of people needed to compete also welcome other people with similar injuries. You can find more information about the team and upcoming events at USA Warriors Hockey.