Santa Barbara- S County

Local ice rink trying to recruit adaptive athletes for sled hockey team

UCSB double amputee excited to promote the sport

Aaron Loy on the ice

GOLETA, Calif. - A meningitis outbreak at UC Santa Barbara four years ago left lacrosse player Aaron Loy a double amputee below the knees.

But, Loy has found a new sport to call his own--sled hockey.

"It is completely the same physicality as normal standup hockey. It could be deemed even more physically demanding because instead of using your legs, you use your arms to move," he said.

The 21-year-old recently got the chance to practice with the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team during a free exhibition at Ice in Paradise in Goleta. 

The players, elite athletes with various disabilities and physical impairments, are preparing for the World Para Ice Hockey Championships in South Korea.

Loy, a newer player, was in awe watching them on the ice.

"A lot of these people come and see the sport for the first time and they're like, 'holy cow, look how hard these guys are working and how fast they are moving,'" Loy said.

Ice in Paradise is planning to jump start it's own sled hockey program and is trying to get the word out.

"We are starting to get our sled team off of the ground," said General Manager Larry Bruyere. "We have 12 sleds in-house now and our facility was made for adaptive sports."

Loy is excited to help promote the sport.

"I think that if you are handicapped or adaptive in any way you feel like you cannot try things, cannot do things," Loy said. "When you kind of move faster than you normally do in the day to day life dealing with the disability you have, it is the most just awesome feeling to move faster."

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