Tay­lor made for the game

Hockey a great out­let for autis­tic Pla­cen­tia youth

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

The play­ers on the bench get lost some­times.

Ev­ery­one is pay­ing so much at­ten­tion to what is on the ice that some­times they for­get to look at the bench to see what’s go­ing on. They see the slick skat­ing and crisp pass­ing or maybe that big save by their team’s goal­tender, but rarely do they see that one player on the bench who tries to get the rest of his team­mates go­ing.

If they have a bad shift, he’s there to try and lift them up. If they miss a scor­ing chance, he’s there to tell them they’ll score the next time.

Ev­ery team has them and ev­ery team needs them. For the Pla­cen­tia In­ter­town Lions midget B team, that player is Tay­lor Hann.

The 17-year-old is a third-year midget with the Lions team. He also has autism, tur­rets syn­drome and at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tive disor­der. This past Satur­day was World Autism Aware­ness Day.

That can be a lot to deal with, but when he’s on the ice, Tay­lor is just one of the boys. On the ice he’s a whirling dervish of a player.

He re­lent­lessly chases the puck from one end of the ice to the other. It’s a dogged at­ti­tude that en­dears him to his team­mates. On the bench, he’s the first one to bang his stick off the boards in cel­e­bra­tion.

“The boys are fun to talk too,” said Tay­lor.

He’s been in­volved in hockey for the last three years. It was a shock when Tay­lor told his mother he wanted to get in­volved in the sport.

Af­ter ex­plor­ing some fund­ing op­tions, Tay­lor was signed up and ready to go.

“It’s good (to see him out there). I’m so happy for him,” said Anna Marie. “He loves it. He loves the hockey.”

Mov­ing be­yond

lim­i­ta­tions

Some peo­ple might be lim­ited by autism. That’s not Tay­lor.

He doesn’t let that stop him or hold him back. Tay­lor is as out­go­ing at the rink as he is when he’s mov­ing through the halls of Laval High School in Pla­cen­tia.

There, he’s just as likely to cover his face in red and gold face paint in sup­port of the bas­ket­ball team.

Dur­ing his tour­na­ment at the Bay Arena, Tay­lor bounced from group to group. One pe­riod he was mak­ing mu­si­cal selections in the booth above the time­keep­ers box, while an­other he was sat amongst play­ers from the Labrador West team.

A mo­ment later, he’s in the time­keep­ers box it­self mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing is run­ning smoothly.

“I like mak­ing new friends,” he said. “It’s fun.”

Anna Marie beams when she talks about Tay­lor and what he’s ac­com­plished by just putting him­self in the situation to be the glue guy on a hockey team.

A smile ex­plodes across her face when she con­verses about the friends he’s made and ex­pe­ri­ences he’s had be­cause of it. She’s sad­dened a bit that it’s his last year, but that quickly goes away.

“I’m re­ally proud of him,” she said.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Pla­cen­tia’s Tay­lor Hann is a ball of en­ergy when he’s at the rink.

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