By Louise Kinross
BLOOM: What is sledge hockey?
Cam Jenkins: You sit on a sled with two skate blades underneath your torso and a rudder at the front. You have two mini hockey-sticks with picks at the end of the stick, so you can propel yourself on the ice. We’re taught to shoot with our left hand and right hand.
BLOOM: When did you begin playing and what is your disability?
Cam Jenkins: I began at 16 years old and I have spina bifida.
BLOOM: How often do you play?
Cam Jenkins: Right now we have three practices a week, of about one-and-a-half to two hours each. Then as the season gets going we’ll have one practice and one game each week.
BLOOM: What position do you play?
Cam Jenkins: When I first started I played forward and defense. Then I went to a tournament in Ottawa and because I was one of the most mobile in my sledge, they stuck me in goal. I've been playing sledge hockey now for 15 years with a small sabbatical while I went away to college and also lived in Whistler, B.C.
BLOOM: Why do you play?
Cam Jenkins: I like being able to play Canada’s favourite pastime and be part of a team and work as a team to reach a goal. I went to a high school that didn’t have a lot of people with challenges, so at that time it was definitely a way to meet people in my community who had the same challenges as myself.
BLOOM: What does it cost?
Cam Jenkins: It costs $450 a year to become a member, and that includes ice time.
BLOOM: What do you like the most about playing?
Cam Jenkins: I love being a goalie became I’m the last line of defense. I’m either the hero or the goat. If I let in a bad goal I look bad upon myself. But if I make a beautiful glove save and everyone’s cheering my name and congratulating me, there’s nothing like keeping your team in a game.
My favourite part is just being around my teammates and helping them out because I believe that every player can be a part of the team, no matter what their role. I always encourage people to do what they’re good at. That could be blocking shots or being a goal scorer. If you’re not a fast skater maybe your role is to stay in front of the net while the other defenseman runs around and tries to get the puck.
BLOOM: Do you have to be good at sledge hockey to play?
Cam Jenkins: We want everyone to be able to come out and participate, whether they’re doing it at a competitive level or doing it at a social, fun level. We have different kinds of teams based on what you want to get out of it.
BLOOM: What age are the participants?
Cam Jenkins: Our youngest is six and there’s no upper limit. There are 12 to 13 players on each team and each team has a coach, assistant coach and trainer.
BLOOM: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Cam Jenkins: The Cruisers are all about making sure everyone is included and feels a part of the team. I want to get across the point that everyone has a part on the team.