The Modern Day Gladiator
Sled hockey: Flying lower than the birds
ou get in a sled, and then all of a sudden, it’s like you’re flying lower than birds, but the speed is still the same,” said Dave Cloutier, a member of the Central New York Flyers sled hockey team. “There is a sense of freedom, and I hope it is something that I never really lose sight of.
“It’s a sense of this is what I was made to do.”
Several years ago, Cloutier decided to stop and help a broken down car on the side of the road. While assisting the driver, another vehicle crashed into him, pinning Cloutier between the two vehicles. The incident resulted in the loss of one of his legs and limited mobility in the other.
Cloutier was able to fulfill his childhood dream of playing ice hockey by joining practices and games with about 20 other non-disabled and disabled players on the CNY Flyers squad.
Regardless of physical capabilities, sled hockey can be tough for any player. While seated in a bucket atop ice skate blades, players use two short hockey sticks with sharp picks on the ends to propel their sled forward at high speeds and chase down a hockey puck.
“It’s all upper body strength,” Flyers’ member Cody Arnold said. “You don’t have to be Hulk Hogan. You can still use your arms and push yourself across the ice.”
A truck driver during the week and hockey player on weekends, Arnold plays the center position, so he’s always moving his body, as well as his mouth. Giving instructions, motivating junior players, and even trash-talking.
Along with practices at the YMCA in Skaneateles, the CNY Flyers travel to play Rochester, Canton as well as the Empire State Winter Games in Lake Placid.
Cloutier said he is grateful that he found sled hockey in his life.
“There are people that belong on the ice, and there are people that don’t, and you have to be honest about what you are,” Cloutier said. “I think for me, I recognize myself as a person who belongs on the ice.”
Dave Cloutier has never been one to wallow in pity. Years ago, Cloutier decided to stop and help a broken down car on the side of the road. While assisting the driver, another vehicle crashed into them, pinning Cloutier between the two cars.
Even though he could not walk, Ryan didn’t let that stop him from going out into the world and trying to conquer it.
Born with the spinal condition spina bifida, Myles Favata, has never had full control of his legs.
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby, Jess uses a wheelchair to get around. Her condition affects her muscles and spinal cord, causing pain in her back area and having her muscles continually moving on their own.
Ryan isn’t like all the other kids on the ice rink. Ryan’s been an amputee since he was a baby after having his lower left leg removed due to cancer.
He fell in love with sled hockey nine years ago when his mom first took him to the ice rink.
About This Project
These videos were produced by Professor Seth Gitner’s MPD500 Advanced Multimedia class as part of the Newhouse School’s Military Motion Media program.
Class members include Justin Huffty, Kent Redmond, Franklin Harris Jr., Danian Douglas, Bria Hughes, Bobby Gonzales, Shaemus Sawyer, Josh Joyner, Jared Bunn, Antonio Lewis, Keion Jackson, Somers Steelman and Laiqa Hitt.
Special thanks to Sonny Cirasuolo for his programming assistance.