Above and Beyond One Step Sharks program provides instruction for those with intellectual, physical disabilities
individuals I have encountered in the hockey world.” The One Step Sharks is a natural fit for both Topham and Woosley as their day he saying “hockey is for everyone” has an emphatic meaning in San Jose these jobs coincide with the individuals on the team. Topham is a board-certified behavior days. analyst working with individuals diagnosed with autism and Woosley is the music The One Step Sharks program, designed for individuals with intellectual or phys- program instructor and special programs developer for One Step Beyond, Inc. ical disabilities, came to fruition last fall and has taken off in the Bay Area. “I think most people don’t try the sport because its intimidating,” said WoosA similar program – One Step Coyotes – is in its second season in Phoenix and ley. “Scary to say the least, especially for someone with an intellectual disability. If both One Step programs are the brain child of Jared Woosley. more people knew about this fun aspect of the game, which really isn’t the game at “We had started a hockey team at our One Step Beyond San Mateo location (life all – it’s skating around the rink, all warm in your gear skills day program for adults with intellectual disabilities) and at the time, we didn’t but with that ice-cold breeze on your face. It’s have a name,” explained Woosley. “We just went out and played. Our good friend the feel of the stick when it connects with Hanna Hanhan at Nazareth Ice Oasis helped us greatly when it came to getting a puck so perfectly that it saucers to the these guys on the ice. net and banks in with a beautiful ping “Our program participants (all 18 and older) were really into it and the parents off the post. It’s enjoying all of that were very supportive of that. The San Jose Sharks reached out and invited us to with your friends – with your team. skate at their practice facility (Solar4America Ice at San Jose). We all decided to Every single human on earth would put a motion in place that will grow special hockey by geographically coordinating love that if they had the opportunity close NHL franchises together for the purpose of special hockey development. to try. In the future, we hope to see the One Step Sharks play the One Step Coyotes “Hockey is for everybody, but in at Sharks and Coyotes home games against each other. I can’t wait for that day.” some places, it’s not as attainable. Chris Topham coaches the One Step Sharks and has been elated with the It makes me so happy to know that season’s highlights to this point. in those places there are people do“There have been so ing something about it. many highlights during In the Bay Area, there the season that it is hard are many, and growing.” to pick a place to start,” Woosley added that said Topham. “It’s just working with the One great to see the progress Step Sharks is truly a reour players make each warding experience. week and the smiles on “Everyone has chaltheir faces as they arlenges, some more serive at the rink. They are vere than others,” he always so enthusiastic said. “It’s important that about playing and show everyone has the opa real love for the sport. portunity despite that I am always impressed fact. Hockey is someby their dedication comthing that my friends at ing from someone who One Step Beyond love learned the sport later in to play, and I’m glad that life. I know that there are the hockey community numerous challenges in San Jose and the Bay along the way to being Area have done so much able to play the sport. to help. One of the highlights “Right now, the playhas to be the jersey ers range in age from presentation on Dec. 20-35, and yes, they all San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, a major supporter of the NHL’s ‘Hockey Is For Everyone’ campaign, took part in the One 12. For that session, we Step Sharks jersey unveiling at Solar4America Ice at San Jose back on Dec. 12. Photo/Brandon Magnus get along very well. They had (Sharks forward) encourage each other in Evander Kane and (Sharks mascot) S.J. Sharkie come out on the ice to present the locker room and on the ice. It’s a beautiful thing.” us with the official One Step Sharks jerseys and socks. And getting the support from the NHL’s Sharks has been key in keeping the “I can’t thank the Sharks organization enough for the continuation of the pro- program sustainable. gram as a whole, but for that day in particular. It was great to see all of our players “The Sharks have helped tremendously in keeping the team going by providing get so excited to receive the jerseys and meet Evander and Sharkie.” free ice time, equipment, publicity, and a huge amount of support, both on and off Topham added that while each player has individual goals for the season, he the ice,” Topham said. “We are hugely grateful for the Sharks organization getting wants to see the players continue to smile and enjoy learning the game of hockey. involved and it has been an experience of a lifetime for the players who are all huge “Our main goal is simply to have our players out there on the ice having fun and Sharks fans. Some of our volunteers come through the Jr. Sharks organization and spreading the message that hockey is for everyone,” Topham said. “Everyone has both the San Jose Sharks and San Jose Barracuda have been generous with their already come so far in the few months that we have been skating, and we hope to time and equipment. continue to grow as a team and to promote the culture that hockey is for everyone. “We have regular sessions at the Solar4America Ice every Wednesday at noon We live by this saying at the One Step Sharks and we are so proud to be members and will continue to develop our hockey skills in advance of any games that may of the Sharks organization – an organization that supports this saying through their be scheduled. The fact that we have regular ice time, passionate volunteers, and a generosity in the community. dedicated group of players already makes the program a success. I can’t thank our “It was particularly special to have Evander Kane come out to practice since volunteers enough for their continued support and coming out every week to help we know that the ‘Hockey Is For Everyone’ initiative is something that he is very out. Joanne Couling, Thorin Stormo and Sean Ketchum, among others, have passionate about. One of our main goals as a team is to disseminate the message been a huge help in on-ice coaching, equipment management, and everything else that hockey is for everyone and get more people involved in the sport. It truly is the behind the scenes that goes into making the sessions happen.” greatest sport, at least we think so, and it has been very therapeutic, not just for For more information on joining the One Step Sharks, email Chris Topham at the members of the One Step Sharks, but also for me as a coach and countless firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Matt Mackinder
California Rubber Hockey Magazine
The February issue, featuring the One Step Sharks on the cover, has hit the streets!