Trio of lo­cal sledge hockey play­ers will take their games to an­other level

Thrasher Lo­gan Gilling­ham makes Team On­tario; Joshua Cham­bers and Troy Clem­mer are off to ParaS­port Cham­pi­onships

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - FAISAL ALI

FROM A HAND­FUL OF en­thu­si­as­tic ath­letes 10 years ago to an or­ga­ni­za­tion with teams iced across mul­ti­ple di­vi­sions, the Wool­wich Thrash­ers have be­come a tour de force in the sport of sledge hockey.

Ear­lier this fall, the Thrash­ers opened their sec­ond rep. sea­son in the On­tario Sledge Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion, trounc­ing the Buf­falo Sabres in their first home-and-home se­ries of the year. In Fe­bru­ary, Wool­wich will play host to the 2019 Cana­dian Sledge Hockey Cham­pi­onships, thanks in large part to the ef­forts of the Thrash­ers.

And now, adding even more to the team’s ris­ing success in the sport, sev­eral young play­ers from the Thrash­ers’ open divi­sion are tak­ing their skills to a larger arena.

Lo­gan Gilling­ham was se­lected to play in Team On­tario this year, while her team­mates Joshua Cham­bers and Troy Clem­mer were picked up to play in the ParaS­port Cham­pi­onships in Fe­bru­ary.

“It’s re­ally, re­ally cool,” said Gilling­ham of play­ing for the pro­vin­cial women’s team.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to make, like, higher than just a smaller house league team, be­cause I’ve been play­ing sports my whole life,” said the 16-year-old ath­lete. “I think I’ve got­ten pretty good at it quickly, and it’s re­ally amaz­ing. Hope­fully down the road I make it to Team Canada. That’s the goal.”

For Gilling­ham, who started play­ing sledge hockey just two years ago, the move to Team On­tario is a sig­nif­i­cant step to­wards her na­tional as­pi­ra­tions. She’ll be play­ing on the prov­ince’s women’s team along­side some of the top tal­ent in the coun­try this sea­son, while also com­pet­ing with the Thrash­ers.

“It’s [a] woman’s Team On­tario, so there’s peo­ple from all over On­tario and it’s all ages. A few of them are on the na­tional team as well as on this team,” noted Gilling­ham.

While play­ing for the pro­vin­cial team, she’ll con­tinue to bat­tle with the Wool­wich Thrash­ers – her sledge-fam­ily, as she calls it – in the open rep. league.

“We don’t have a lot of prac­tices for Team On­tario be­cause ev­ery­body plays on their home team as well. So it kind of de­pends who’s around to prac­tice,” she ex­plained.

As a re­sult, it’s hard to compare the level of ca­ma­raderie on the pro­vin­cial team with that of her home team.

“[It’s] not as much, no. This is like the best place for the fam­ily-ori­en­tated, team-ori­en­tated play,” said Gilling­ham.

Also rep­re­sent­ing the Thrash­ers’ name on a larger play­ing field are team­mates Joshua Cham­bers and Troy Clem­mer. Both will be tak­ing part in the up­com­ing ParaS­port On­tario games in Fe­bru­ary. The games, set for the sec­ond week­end of the month, are ex­pected to fea­ture more than 500 par­tic­i­pants, with sledge hockey teams from Kitch­ener to Oril­lia all con­tribut­ing play­ers.

Both Cham­bers and Clem­mer are en­ter­ing their fifth year with the Thrash­ers – half the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s life – and in that time have seen the or­ga­ni­za­tion, and them­selves, grow tremen­dously. Ic­ing play­ers for the ParaS­port games is just one more achieve­ment for the group.

“There have been a lot more play­ers com­ing in in the last five years,” said Cham­bers. “When Troy and I started, there were no games at all, there were no tour­na­ments or any­thing. So we’ve played more games over the years, more tour­na­ments. It’s def­i­nitely evolved quite a bit.”

The team has seen a sig­nif­i­cant boost in mem­ber­ship amongst chil­dren as well, with a feeder sys­tem of young play­ers en­sur­ing that the Thrash­ers will con­tinue to grow and thrive for years to come.

“We’ve had more play­ers come out and it’s fun to see them grow,” added Clem­mer, who along with his team­mates helps coach the tots. “We’ve def­i­nitely seen some of our play­ers grow since I started.”

“We all kind of started off as a mix of all ages last year be­cause we only had one prac­tice time,” said Gilling­ham. “So I think this year, just get­ting to see ev­ery­body like play with the puck a lit­tle more, be­cause now there’s more ice time, has been re­ally cool.”

Right now, the pri­or­ity for the Thrash­ers open team is to make it fur­ther into the play­offs than last year, their in­au­gu­ral rep. sea­son.

“Well ob­vi­ously, I think our goal is to win this year,” said Cham­bers.

“Since the be­gin­ning of the sea­son last year, we didn’t do that well,” noted Gilling­ham with a laugh. “We kind of got creamed our first two games last year. Like 4-0, I think it was.”

“But then to­wards the end of the sea­son we did pretty well. We got to be­come a re­ally strong team to­gether,” she added. “We did ex­tremely well our first year. We made it to play­offs, but lost, un­for­tu­nately.”

Those hop­ing to catch the Thrash­ers in ac­tion can find them at their next home game at the Wool­wich Me­mo­rial Cen­tre on Jan­uary 5, from 2-3 p.m. against Es­sex-Kent.

[FAISAL ALI / THE OB­SERVER]

Wool­wich Thrash­ers Lo­gan Gilling­ham, Troy Clem­mer and Joshua Cham­bers at the Wool­wich Me­mo­rial Cen­tre’s Jim McLeod Arena.

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