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Matt Dumba’s third annual Hockey Without Limits Camp brings together diverse backgrounds from the Twin Cities area to enjoy the game of hockey
It looked like any average holiday Monday in Minnesota. Piles of kids on skates, scooting around on the outdoor hockey rink in the mid-20-degree temperatures, a light snowfall completing the picturesque scene.
But look closer, and there is one unique difference about this particular outdoor hockey event: It was composed of players and groups from various ethnic and diverse backgrounds, all taking part in Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba’s third annual Hockey Without Limits Camp.
“There’s a lot of smiles out here today,” Dumba said. “I’m just happy to see that. I’m just grateful all these kids could come together. We’re all coming from different walks of life and for us to be here really is about family and friends and the memories we’re making in this game.
“These were my best memories as a child. Just being outside on the outdoor rink with my friends. I’m thrilled I can share that with them as well.
More than 300 youth hockey players from various hockey diverse organizations around the Twin Cities converged on to the Guidant John Rose MN OVAL for an outdoor hockey clinic, with 45-minute sessions running from 9 a.m. CT through 3 p.m. CT.
Players from DinoMights, Herb Brooks Foundation, New Directions Youth Ministry, Hockey is for Me, Mosaic Hockey Collective, Athletes Committed to Educating Students (ACES), Minnesota Special Hockey, Sled Hockey, Blind Hockey, Deaf/Hard of Hearing Hockey, Interfaith Action and American Indian Youth Enrichment all participated.
“We wanted to reach every single group we could here in the Twin Cities,” Dumba explained. “The kids that don’t fit the stereotype of what we perceive to be a hockey player. Because to me, they’re all playing hockey. We all love this game. The more kids we can remind of that, the better of our sport, and really our communities, will be.”
The youth players were treated to guest appearances from Dumba’s Wild teammates including forwards Matt Boldy, Mason Shaw, Brandon Duhaime, Connor Dewar, Ryan Reaves, defensemen Jon Merrill and Calen Addison, as well as goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, with autograph signings taking precedent over skill-showing.
“I think when you go to an outdoor rink, there probably isn’t a lot of people that look like us, especially growing up, not a lot of kids looking like us,” said Reaves. “So, to have a gathering like this where everybody kind of looks different but looks the same at the same time is important for these kids to realize that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what your parents do, what you do—sports is for everybody. And you can enjoy it just like everybody else enjoys.”
Sled hockey players, blind and deaf players, Black players, White players, Latino players—it didn’t matter. On Monday, they were all hockey players enjoying the greatest game on earth outside.
“We don’t leave anyone out,” Dumba said. “It’s awesome. We’ve got interpreters here for sign language. We’ve got kids who are deaf and kids who are blind. Just kids from every walk of life coming together.
“This really is hockey being for everyone. I think that phrase gets thrown out there a lot and doesn’t always get put into use. You’re seeing the definition of it right here. I’m pretty proud about that.”
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