“[We’ve been to] California, Tennessee, Russia and Canada,” said Simon, also a forward. “Once I got pretty good at [hockey], the friends I’m making has been the best part.”
The MHA supports USA Hockey’s American Development Model, something Steve also embraces.
“They get more touches, more 1-on-1, and a coach is at each station,” he said. “It seems to work for them. I didn’t have it when I was a kid. These guys develop very quickly.”
USA Hockey’s continues to promote diversity and inclusion in the sport at all levels, removing labels and barriers to allow everyone an opportunity to play. While Sawyer and Simon have experienced some negative reactions and stares from opposing players and fans, Steve says the Mahtomedi program has been extremely supportive.
“They’ve been fantastic at every level,” he said. “[The boys] have been fortunate to have a lot of great coaches, guys that live and breathe hockey. Most of them just see a hockey player.”
The boys are driven to excel, and hope to continue playing hockey or another sport at the highest possible level.
“I definitely want to play a sport to make my life easier to go to college or further,” Sawyer explained. “The competition is fun. It’s become a way of life. You’re doing something that you love, so it doesn’t seem like work anymore.”
Thanks to hockey, Sawyer and Simon have each developed as players and young leaders. Their parents regularly receive feedback from principals and teachers complimenting the boys and their eagerness to help others. Simon sums up the sport’s long-term impact in a simple yet powerful mantra: “Hockey is life.”
Their story is certainly an inspiration for others wishing to follow a similar path.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.