Tough sledding for team

ALISON KORN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

It's the coolest team you've never heard of.

The national female sledge hockey team is a volunteer, kitchen table operation run out of the Metzger home in the town of Elmira.

Keith is the coach, Sandra is the manager, and daughter Corin, 16, is a top forward.

But with no Paralympic status, the team gets zero funding, equipment, or travel coverage -- a glaring contrast to the national men's sledge team, which enjoys complete support from Hockey Canada, Sport Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

The Canadian men are Paralympic and world champions, while the women are still hoping to get included in the Paralympic Games. One day.

"It seems to be a big mystery what the criteria is," Sandra Metzger said. "The U.S. has a women's team and Canada does, and as far as we know they're the only teams in the world."

For the past three years, Canada and the U.S. have played each other a few times a year in exhibition games. Their last meeting was in Windsor at the 2008 HOCKtoberfest, a female hockey festival from Oct. 30-Nov. 2. In three games, Canada won two and tied one.

During the regular season, the female players, aged 15-44, play on guys' teams. There aren't enough for an all-female league.

"I'm just hoping we can find more girls out there who like to play," Keith Metzger said. His daughter Corin has spina bifida.

"They're no different than anybody else, they love to win and they love to score goals, and they also get fairly passionate about it and fairly nervous about it, too," Metzger said.

"I think they find they get a bit more freedom on the ice because they can move fairly fast."

If the town Elmira rings a bell, that's because it's quite the hockey hub -- sledge hockey included.

Men's national sledge team coach Jeff Snyder is from there, and the town is in contention for the 2009 Hockeyville title.

Most national team sledge hockey players come out of Southern Ontario with a few from the west and Montreal.

Keith Metzger is planning an all-girls sledge hockey training session in June. Anyone interested can reach him at kmetzger@teksavvy.com.

Fundraising campaigns

A national online fundraising campaign kicked off to raise $5 million for Own the Podium 2010 Program yesterday, inviting Canadians to make individual donations of $20.10 online at www.olympicfoundation.ca.

Donors will receive a tax receipt as well as an e-mail and thank you message from 2010 Olympic team Chef de Mission Nathalie Lambert and Blair McIntosh, Chef de Mission for the 2010 Canadian Paralympic team.

Last week, Beijing Olympic gold medallist rower Malcolm Howard launched his Malcolm's Million campaign to invite Canadians to donate $10 to support winter athletes in their final year of preparation towards the 2010 Olympics.

Money raised will go directly to winter sport athletes through the Canadian Athletes Now Fund. Howard's site is at www.malcolmsmillion.com.

Pan Am bid

The Honourable David Peterson, chairman of the 2015 Pan American Games Bid Committee, will discuss the bid at the 2009 Sport in Our Community Summit which will be hosted by the Toronto Sports Council Feb. 28 at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.

The registration deadline has been extended to Feb. 24. For more information visit www.torontosportscouncil.com.


Videos

Photos