Sledge hockey mom says it's a family affair
Mom manages, dad coaches and both boys — able-bodied and disabled — are on the ice
For Suzanne Vienneau, this week's Our Game Star, sledge hockey is a family affair.
Her 12-year-old son, Alex, has cerebral palsy and plays for the Edmonton Blades junior team.
He's played for three years, and he's not the only Vienneau involved.
Suzanne, 44, is the team manager. Her husband, Marc, 45, is the coach. And their nine-year-old son, Ben — who is able-bodied — also plays on the team.
"It's pretty awesome," Suzanne said. "It keeps us together as a family."
Suzanne became this week's Our Game Star after posting Edmonton Blades pictures to her Our Game Community profile.
She's also written blogs about the team's season — describing their "hopes and dreams" and how much the players have grown and developed.
"Winning is just the icing on the cake," she wrote.
As team manager, Suzanne attends all practices and games, many of which are out of town.
She's also constantly emailing to ensure parents are up to date on the times, dates, locations and other important details for each team event.
Since she also battles Parkinson's disease, there's a lot on her plate.
It all began for the Vienneaus a few years ago when Suzanne and Marc looked for activities Alex might enjoy.
"He loves hockey, but he has cerebral palsy and it was difficult for him to skate," she said.
"When he was involved with the Paralympic [Sport Association], we thought [sledge hockey] would be perfect. And he just loves it," she said.
In one of her blogs, Suzanne wrote that many of the team's games are played against "standup" players, since there aren't many other sledge hockey teams in the area.
"Until they get off the ice and hop in a wheel chair, or slide back into the dressing room with legs that don’t work, or no legs at all, it’s easy to forget they are different from the standup team they just played," she wrote.
"I've learned not to underestimate them. They're really just like other kids," she said. "I underestimated my own son a lot. He's come such a long way."
For instance, Suzanne said for the past three years, whenever Alex fell out of his sledge, he always needed help getting back in. But this year, at a tournament in London, Ont., he found new strength.
"I don't know if it was the intensity of the game, but he fell over, and all of a sudden, he just popped himself up and away he went," she said.
Apart from her family's involvement with the Blades, Suzanne said they're faithful fans of the Edmonton Oilers.
"We never miss a game, especially now that the playoffs are coming," she said.
As an Our Game Star, Suzanne will be featured on Hockey Night in Canada and could win tickets to the Stanley Cup Final.
Find out how you can become an Our Game Star.