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The time is here, it has come for the 9th annual USA HOCKEY Disabled Festival.

But here I sit at home. No packed bags. No final check on equipment. Nobody from the Austin Blades are  going.

Pretty sad.

After joining forces with counterparts in Houston last year and winning 3rd place, one would believe that our team would re-group and aim for gold this year.

It never happened.

The idea was actually discussed at a team meeting before the 2012-13 season even began. A meeting that had no leadership in attendance and the ones really doing any of the talking were the leaders ON the team.

After a unanimous vote to NOT attempt to use funds or even raise them as a team to go to this tournament, it was very painful and disgusting to me to hear individual players talk among themselves after the meeting stating a desire to still try to go to Philadelphia.

It made no sense. Why in the world vote NO when your heart is saying YES?

Houston had already made up their minds that they were going to strive to go and that meant doing anything that they could to raise the money.

I believe there were several factors involved for the Austin Blades.

For one, it was estimated that each individual player would have to come up with $2,000 a piece in order to take care of transportation, lodging, and everything else that would be involved in going to Philadelphia. I think that each of the Austin players defeated themselves in believing that they would never be able to come up with that kind of cash. Never in a million years.

Upon that hearing that assumed magic number… each player immediately gave up.

Also, two of our ice rinks were stripped and torn away from us as the ice rink was sold. Leaving us with only one sheet of ice. And that sheet of ice was to accommodate for everything from hockey to skating lessons to figure skating. The sledge hockey team was seemingly thrown into this mix and we’ve not been able to have access to a full sheet of ice during any time that we have had practices.

At the beginning of the season, there was a series of bake sales that took place. With me taking care of my niece so that my sister could at least go to work once a week, I never participated in those bake sales. The scheduling of them was just not convenient for me to attend. And it pissed off the entire team that I was never there. They never quite understood.

There was but a few bake sales and then that disappeared. I suspect that the money that was earned from all of them went towards buying ice time for practices. But that’s information never willing to be confirmed. It would however stand to reason.

Times since then have been very few and far between that the Austin Blades have been on the ice, for any reason at all.

Meanwhile, Houston has been going at full force.

I did make a personal attempt to raise the money for MYSELF to be able to go. But out of the estimated guess of $2,000 that I needed, I was only able to raise $260. The link to the website was even on the Blogroll. Still is. But that’s all I was able to receive.

I found the lack of inspiration and willingness to sacrifice to make it to Philadelphia by the team lacking and pathetic. There’s no drive whatsoever! Only fear and self-intimidation.

This entire season I have been struggling in the back of my mind of whether or not to actually quit the team. But using that as a threat isn’t the point. The point is that the team seems to be slipping back into a comfort zone of doing seemingly nothing to go forward or get ahead. And that really kills my personal dreams and goals of participating in this exciting sport.

I know that Houston would welcome me with open arms if I end up there. They have always been inviting the Austin Blades to join them for a practice or two. Even challenging us to friendly competition…. going as far as to pay for gas and hotel. But the Austin Blades did nothing. It wasn’t even discussed as a team.

See what I mean by lacking??

Sledge hockey to me is not a hobby. Its not just something to do in order to get me out of the house for a few hours a week. It is a passion, a heartfelt interest. I’m driven by the idea of playing. It took more than three seasons to even get jerseys! Or something that would even resemble us as a sports team. And that was only done because I had a fire under me to push, push, push.

So much for the Austin Blades I suppose.

The team going from Houston is playing under the team name of Texas Stars. Which ironically is the same name of the semi-professional hockey farm team nearby. The Austin Blades will be playing on their ice after they play a full game later this weekend. But I seriously doubt anyone will be sticking around to watch us play. We tried that when our team had it together and we went to Houston for the first time. Over 9,000 people in the stands and nobody stayed behind to watch.

But I will be hoping and praying that Texas Stars do well this year in Philadelphia. The teams in that pool are many so there will only be two games played before they start a semi-final round, going by points. They must win five games outright to bring home the gold!

I noticed that their second match is against G.L.A.S.A., the same team that ruined us last year. I hope for some athletic vengeance on the ice. Games can be watched online at fasthockey.com, but they are not free! I think its something like $7.99 per credit. And of course if you buy more credits, the price goes lower per credit.

I am hoping for the gold. And at the same time, I know that deep down I will be totally miserable about it…. KNOWING that members of the Austin Blades, including myself, could have been a part of it.

So I will wear my green and black this week. And then I’ll be on the ice this coming weekend in our Austin Blades jersey doing my best to represent.

Speculation and rumor has it that the tenth annual tournament will be in Florida. NOW is the time to start planning for it, for those of us who didn’t go to Philadelphia. I’m going to be busting some serious ass to raise enough funds for that to happen. Even if the rumors are wrong, I will do what I can to get there and it doesn’t really matter where its located. Just as long as I AM THERE!!!!

 

 

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