MVH helps coach special needs hockey


Junior Elena Ervin skates next to a MORC Star player during the learn-to-skate session. (Photo Credit: Shannon Seabolt)

Rather than sleep in on Sunday morning, as many Mercy girls do, Mercy’s Varsity Hockey team spends their Sunday mornings volunteering to help developmentally disabled children learn to play hockey.

MVH acts as assistant coaches for the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center (MORC) Stars. The MORC Stars is a team specifically for kids with mental disabilities and is open for boys and girls of any age, disability or skill set.

Each Sunday, a handful of varsity hockey players volunteer at MORC Star practices. The practice sessions are split by skill level and the Mercy team helps at the first two sessions of the day. Throughout these sessions, they help alongside the MORC Star coaches by running drills, skating with the kids and encouraging them to keep skating when they get tired or want to quit.

“The first session is called the C team and we just go through a regular practice,” said senior Hannah Hamilton. “For me personally, I just make sure everyone is doing what they supposed to be doing. The second session is a learn to skate. That’s more one-on-one and we have a ton of helpers. Basically you pick a kid and teach them the basics of hockey.”

As assistant coaches, MHV often goes to MORC Star games. They sit on the bench and direct and encourage the team, just as any other coach would.

“We also go with the team on tournaments,” said Hamilton. “We went to Columbus, Ohio with them for a weekend and we’re going to go to Jamestown, New York in a few weeks.”

Coaching the MORC Stars players provides a way for Mercy’s hockey girls to volunteer and help special needs children by teaching the sport that they love.

“I just love being here,” said Hamilton. “I think it’s really cool that I can take the sport that I love and use that as communication with other people, especially with these kids. I had never worked with people with special needs before and they’ve taught me patience and other things that got me interested in helping them more.”

The MORC Star coaches help kids of all ages and ranges of mental disabilities learn to play hockey. (Photo Credit: Shannon Seabolt)