Mission Special Edition continuing to thrive in Year 3
Mission is now in Year 3 of offering its Mission Special Edition program, which is designed to allow people of all ages with special needs the opportunity to play hockey and learn to love the game.
“It has been such an amazing thing to see our program come together to support others in this way and really share their passion for the game,” said Mission coach-in-chief Jeremy Goltz. “Adults and kids alike have made it a point to set aside time in their busy schedules to give back, and the incredible impact it has had on the players in the Mission Special Edition program makes it 100 percent worthwhile for everyone involved.”
Led by director Brandi Goltz, the Mission Special Edition program has approximately 20 players registered this season, from ages 6 all the way up to 16. Every Monday, Mission dedicates 30 minutes of ice time at AZ Ice Peoria to the program, and players from Mission’s 14U, 16U and 18U teams volunteer their time to coaching and serving as mentors.
Depending on the player, their work could involve practicing stick handling or teaching the very basics of skating. With such a wide range in skill level and experience, Goltz said he sees major changes in each and every player throughout the season, and it’s not just limited to their abilities on the ice. Mission Special Edition players gain self-confidence, relish the opportunity to learn something new and develop a sense of camaraderie that players on Mission’s other teams can sometimes take for granted.
“We are seeing massive improvements week to week,” Jeremy Goltz said. “It’s crazy to see how much they learn from week to week and how much more confident and self-assured they are after just a little time on the ice. It’s really heartwarming to see how much it means to them to be part of something like this.”
Goltz said that along with his wife Brandi, there are several full-time volunteers who help support the program and ensure it runs smoothly. Among those, he credited Dave Steinberger and Mission alumni Ben Branaman and Dominic Meardi for their considerable efforts in making Mission Special Edition what it has become.
“It is honestly one of the highlights of my week to watch the smiles on these players’ faces and to see how much fun they have playing hockey,” Jeremy Goltz said. “We are so incredibly blessed to be able to share our love for the game with those new to hockey, so being involved in this is really an amazing thing for all of us. The kids in the Mission Special Edition group are so appreciative of the chance to play and make such big strides as the season goes on that it’s also very rewarding for the coaches and mentors who are involved.”
Mission Special Edition is all about giving people of different abilities the same opportunities as other kids in Mission’s program. While the goal throughout the program is to foster player development, character development is equally as important. By offering this opportunity, everyone involved – from the kids on the ice to the mentors and coaches from Mission’s other teams – learns something that will stay with them long after they have hung up their red and white Mission sweaters.
“It has become a big part of our program, and our kids do a great job of working with the team, helping them learn to love the game and giving them the opportunity to skate,” Goltz said.
— Greg Ball
(Dec. 31, 2019)