The Lake Forest College and the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA) annual “The Sleds Are Coming” event earned Award of Merit recognition by the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA). The award recognizes the many contributions NCAA Division III student-athletes regularly make to their campuses and local communities.
The program showcases GLASA’s sled hockey program and gives community members, students, and staff the opportunity to watch highly talented players. Sled hockey follows most able-bodied hockey rules, but uses different equipment. Players sit in specially designed sleds which are placed on two hockey skate blades. Each player has two sticks with metal pics on the end for propulsion.
The Lake Forest College Athletic Department and GLASA have been working together to host "The Sleds Are Coming" since 2011. The original purpose of the event was to bring campus and community exposure to GLASA and showcase its sled hockey program, while also raising funds for the Falcons sled hockey team and other GLASA athletes.
The event started off small in its first year with $1,800 raised. More than twice that amount was taken in last year and those funds enabled the organization to purchase new equipment (sleds and helmets) and uniforms, reserve space to practice at local rinks, and fund scholarships to give athletes the opportunity to compete.
The event includes sled hockey players from several age groups and Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse is traditionally packed with friends and family of the players as well as members of the campus and surrounding community. In addition to the action on the ice, the event includes contests between periods, the opportunity to win raffle prizes and participate in a silent auction, and free giveaways.
Approximately 85 percent of the 400 student-athletes at the College attended "The Sleds are Coming" program in 2017 to cheer on the players. They were divided into "team black" and "team white" – the colors of the Falcons – and arrived dressed in their side's designated color. As in past years, the encouragement provided by the fans was more than matched by the inspiration drawn from the dedication and effort of the players on the ice.
One of the individuals directing the Falcon players on the ice is Tony Fritz, the head men's hockey coach at Lake Forest College from 1978-2010 and a member of the Forester Athletic Hall of Fame. He was instrumental in starting the relationship between GLASA and the College in 2011 and remains active with the Falcons as a fan and supporter of Forester Athletics.
"This event has grown into one of our most successful initiatives," began Lake Forest College Director of Athletics Jackie Slaats. "Our partnership with GLASA has been very strong and now includes wheelchair basketball in the Sports and Recreation Center. Our students look forward to the sled hockey event every year and the experience has been extremely valuable, both for the participants and for our students. This Award of Merit is well-deserved by the members of the Athletic Department who put in a great deal of work to make the event special and take great pride in its success."