Written by Rachel Parry
This past September, the Boston Whiplash Volt Hockey program attended the second annual Volt Hockey World Cup, held in Sweden. Alongside the US-based program, teams from Canada, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway were in attendance. Building and improving upon their first tournament experience at the 2022 World Cup, the Whiplash Orange team won Bronze in Division 2, bringing home a trophy to commemorate their success. The tournament also provided memorable learning opportunities, team bonding, and a chance to gain valuable experience for both the players and coaches.
One of the members of the Bronze-winning Whiplash Orange is Caeden Parisi. Caeden recently shared his experiences at the World Cup and with the Volt Hockey program as a whole. He first became involved with Volt Hockey after seeing videos of the sport online, “I saw a video on youtube about [Volt Hockey] from a team in Ontario, Canada that was playing it.” Caeden ended up signing up for the Boston Whiplash alongside his younger brother, Devin, and has become a competitive and skilled member of the team. Since the Whiplash are the only current Volt Hockey program in the United States, the experience has been a unique one for Caeden and his teammates, “My favorite part is getting to...play a new sport that no one else has played before [in the United States],” said Caeden, “It is so new to the US that we are the only team and its cool to be the only people that get to do it.”
Caeden recalls what it was like to travel to Sweden and play in the World Cup, “One of my favorite memories from the WC was being able to play where it started and getting to win third place...we got a trophy.” The trophy was not the only thing that the team brought back from their experience in Sweden. They also had the opportunity to watch and compete against more experienced teams, bringing back knowledge of new techniques and skills. "I learned a lot of new tricks that I didn’t know like being able to pass the ball to your teammates with the wheel of the chair and being able to shoot the ball a lot harder,” said Caeden. Caeden hopes to incorporate what they learned to their practices in Boston as they prepare for future tournaments, “I think we just need more practice...based on how the actual...players from [Europe] practice. Watching the games that they played and trying to incorporate it into our practice.”
While applying learned skills to practices is an important step toward improvement, it
is hard to fully integrate techniques without actual games. This is an especially prevalent challenge for the Boston Whiplash as there are no nearby teams to play against on a regular basis. “That definitely makes it harder because...Canada has a couple of teams and there are a lot of teams [in Europe]. We only can practice within our team,” said Caeden. Luckily, a new team is being launched in North Attleborough, MA in 2024, which will provide more opportunities for the Boston Whiplash to get game action. This will also help the Whiplash improve on some of the areas that they struggled with at the 2023 World Cup, one of which was balancing aggression with focus, “Sometimes we would be a little too aggressive which would hurt us from being able to score enough goals to win games,” said Caeden, “[We were] being too aggressive trying to score goals that we weren't paying attention to trying to get a clear chance to score a goal.”
While there is always room for improvement, especially for a new and developing program, Caeden highlighted changes the team have already been able to implement
compared to previous tournaments, “I think the thing we did best was being able to work together and communicate with one another. I think when we had the [North American Volt Hockey tournament] in Toronto we had a lot of trouble communicating.” The team hopes to continue to improve and expand as they prepare for future tournaments, including the 2024 World Cup.
As the program develops, they hope to spread more awareness about adaptive sports, which are not yet widespread in the United States. “I wish [the public] just knew a little more about [Volt Hockey],” said Caeden, “it would be better for more people to know about it so they can get more people involved in adaptive sports.” Getting more people involved is a primary goal for adaptive sports programs, as they provide opportunities that aren’t typically available to many people with disabilities. “Most people with disabilities aren't able to play any other sport, so I think adaptive sports helps...because it gives people with disabilities a chance to play a sport and show how good they are,” said Caeden, “If it wasn't for the adaptive sports most [people with disabilities] wouldn't be able to play any sports at all.”
The Boston Whiplash program has certainly provided a competitive sports experience to Caeden and his teammates that they might not have otherwise had. The upcoming foundation of a second USA Volt Hockey program indicates that the future is bright for Volt Hockey in the United States. As 2023 comes to a close, 2024 promises new opportunities for skill development, game experience, and global tournaments. As Volt Hockey continues to grow throughout the US, more players will have the opportunity for involvement and making unforgettable memories like the Boston-based team has done so far. Accompanying the growth of the sport will hopefully be an increase in awareness regarding adaptive sports and their importance for people with disabilities. The Boston Whiplash are excited to see what challenges and successes await them as they pave the way for the expansion of Volt Hockey and adaptive sports in the United States.