HOPE Inc. Breaks Barriers with Three Junior Sled Hockey Players to compete at Nation’s Top Camp
Chloe Kirkpatrick is one of fewer than a dozen women who will be at the camp.
HOPE inc. Is an organization specializing in giving active opportunities to people with mobility challenges.
HOPE, in the Fargo-Moorhead area, has sponsored sled hockey for eight years, and this year, the Hurricanes’ junior team took the national title in the top division.
“I don’t think we ever dreamed of winning the national championship at the highest level,” head coach Bill Grommesh said. “We’re really blessed in this community to have the athletes that we do. Am I surprised? I never would have dreamt it when we started the program.”
Even though the season wrapped up just two months ago, the athletes are out working toward their next endeavor. Three of the juniors are heading to the nation’s top camp next month.
“There are 57 kids only throughout the country, so these three are the top 57 in the country,” Grommesh said.
The Elite Camp is more or less a try-out for the national teams. The kids get to brush shoulders with the top coaches and sled hockey players as they attempt to wow them and maybe get a shot with the Paralympic squad.
“That is very cool. That was fun. That was really cool,” 16-year-old competitor Grand Boser said, nearly speechless.
Boser is heading back to the camp for the second time. He was the first-ever representative from HOPE last summer.
“It motivated me a lot,” he said. “I just really tried to train hard to try and get back there and be better.”
Grommesh has noticed the effort.
“He’s worked really hard over the last two years,” the coach said. “He’s come so far. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that he had a shot at this, but he’s put so much time and effort. Again, he deserves to go.”
Tyler Shepersky is one of Boser’s teammates joining him in Buffalo, New York. Shepersky was too young to qualify last season.
“I really never knew that that was a thing,” Shepersky said of the competition. “Now that I know it’s a thing, I’m going to try to push for it. My goal is to be on the national team, so this is one step closer to that. I’m hoping I make it some day hopefully.”
“He works like a dog,” Grommesh said. “I always say ‘if I’m gonna go to war, I want to go to war with Tyler Shepersky.’ He runs the show on the ice. He’s good on offense, good on defense. He’s a competitor. He has goals in mind, and hopefully he makes them.”
And HOPE’s message of inclusion isn’t just limited to the young men participating.
“When we went out to the national tournament, you didn’t see many females participating at that level,” Grommesh said. “We have three on our team – on the national champions who start – our goalie and two defensemen.”
One of them, Chloe Kirkpatrick, is in the even more select group of women at the upcoming camp.
“I think there’s maybe eight, eight or not women,” Kirkpatrick said. “Most of the men get recognized for their talent, but not the women. Now that women are able to join the camp, they’re being recognized for their talent, for their passion for hockey and for their time with hockey.”
And Grommesh recognizes that passion and talent with 13-year-old Kirkpatrick.
Grommesh: “For her to make this camp, incredible, especially as a girl. I fully anticipate that she’s going to make the national women’s team. She’s tougher nails, she’s an athlete. Again, I’m glad she’s on our side.”
The camp in New York begins July 8.