What is the Philadelphia PowerPlay? It is a power wheelchair hockey team which originally started when a group of six students played hockey on a cafeteria floor. The founder, Pat Hilferty, realized that there needed to be an outlet for power wheelchair users to compete in a competitive sport. As a result, the Philadelphia PowerPlay was created. I was one of the original players when we started in 2001. What started as a six player team eventually grew throughout the years and now we have around 30 players and it continues to grow. The players must use a power wheelchair for a majority of their daily lives, but they range in all different ages and abilities. We play amongst ourselves during the regular season, which goes from September until June.
We also have competed in four consecutive tournaments with our coaches choosing which players to put on the tournament team. Our first tournament took place in North Carolina where we lost every game. The next year, we hosted the tournament at Neumann University, and although we progressed, we continued to come in dead last. We competed in Ottawa last summer and did very well, taking sixth place out of eight. This summer we hosted the tournament again and this time we came out on top.
Since our team is so large, the coaches decided to separate us into two teams for the tournament: Philadelphia PowerPlay Red and Philadelphia PowerPlay White. I played on the Philadelphia Red Team as one of the goalies. Our first game was against the Carolina Fury and we won 11-3. The second game was definitely a nail biter when we came from behind and tied the Michigan Mustangs 4-4 with less than six seconds left and came back to win 5-4 with only a few minutes into the fourth period. The third game claimed another victory when we won against Philadelphia PowerPlay White 7-3. The fourth game found us on top again, winning against the Carolina Fury 11-2. After four tournaments, we finally found ourselves competing in the championship game against the Michigan Mustangs, who won it all last year. Well, this year was our year to take the trophy and Philadelphia Red did just that with a final score of 9-4. The enthusiasm of the crowd when time ran out was the best experience and, as we faced the stands during the playing of “We are the Champion,” emotions reached an ultimate high. It is an experience that we will never forget and I’m extremely proud of my team. I’m also grateful to the wonderful coaches and everyone involved in the Philadelphia PowerPlay who believed in us. If we continue to play with the same determination as we did this summer, I have no doubt that we can win another championship next year.
Not only was I an athlete and helped my team become the 2013 U.S. Powerhockey Champions, but I also was the Event Manager for the weekend as part of my internship in the athletic department at Neumann. It was truly an honor for me to play the role as the Event Manager. It definitely helped boost my confidence level and I felt like I made Neumann proud. Being an Event Manager also allowed people to get to know me and enable them to understand that having Cerebral Palsy does not prevent me from taking on huge responsibilities.