Sledge Pride Hockey: 2024 Game Changers Winner

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Introducing Sledge Pride Hockey, a winner of the 2024 Game Changers Campaign. They begun their journey this year and are taking strides to make an impact in their community.

What is your background in hockey and what inspired you to create Sledge Pride?

Sledge Pride was founded by Claire Buchanan and Kim Keogh. Claire Buchanan is a disabled athlete who has competed in multiple para sports. Claire began playing sports through the introduction to sledge hockey (now known as para hockey) at the age of 12. In 2014, Claire made the Canadian women’s para hockey team and is in their 10th season with team Canada. Claire and Kim met through para sport and created Sledge Pride to give queer para-athletes and allies a space within the para hockey world. Kim Keogh hails from Barrie, Ontario and has been deeply involved in para sport throughout the last decade. Kim has coached para hockey in Barrie and has volunteered with wheelchair tennis and multiple para sport organizations. A goalie at heart, Kim Keogh will look not only to be a big part in growing Sledge Pride, but playing as well!

How has Sledge Pride impacted the LGBTQ2S+ community within para hockey since its inception?

Sledge Pride is just in it’s beginning stages as it debuted in June of this year! The goal of Sledge Pride was brought to life by collaborating with able-bodied queer hockey tournaments and the Toronto Pride Hockey Tournament was the first to include a Sledge Pride para hockey game. The exposure of para hockey grew and we had our first 12 athletes represent the team. Queer para hockey players and allies shared the ice together, created bonds, and showed how we can create safe spaces together. Creating Sledge Pride has and will have a lasting legacy of creating change through the growth of para hockey.

Can you share a memorable moment that stands out to you since starting Sledge Pride?

Kim and Claire intentionally set up the locker room before the game at the Toronto Pride Hockey Tournament and we gave the athletes the experience of everyone seeing the jerseys for the first time. It was incredible seeing everyone amazed by the detail of the jerseys and to share in a moment together full of joy and excitement. It was a moment that showed connection between the queer community and our allies and the benefit of a strong relationship between the two.

What advice would you give to other sports organizations looking to create more inclusive environments?

Find other organizations with similar goals. Those will be your communities. We are forever grateful for the organizations that have already collaborated with us and the ones who are eager to connect for future events. The future is bright for all of us and having a community bring so much joy to us to be able to share that and grow those communities together.

What are some of your future goals and plans for Sledge Pride?

We have a long list of queer hockey tournaments we would love to be a part of and not only do we want to showcase para hockey at these events but, we want to provide opportunities for everyone to try para hockey at the events. We have access to sleds and organizations who provide equipment and we are excited to have people try the sport for the first time.

How do you plan to utilize the $1000 prize toward your initiative, and what impact do you hope it will have?

The prize money will be a big boost in being able to book ice to not only give development opportunities to our current group of athletes but to be able to attend and be a part of events across Ontario, Canada, and the United States. Having this prize money will be vital for us as we are just starting out on our journey with Sledge Pride and we are so grateful to be chosen as winners!!

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