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Minot Embraced the Sled Series as Much as it has Embraced Chris Douglas

By Bob Reinert, 03/20/24, 11:15AM EDT


Since moving to Minot in 2018, Douglas has made MAYSA Arena his second home.

Ask Chris Douglas about his career highlights, and he won’t mention gold medals, world championships, or personal on-ice statistics. Douglas, instead,uses a different metric to measure his achievements.

“Right from the get-go, I was already a person that was looking to give back,” Douglas said. “I was trying to teach kids the proper way to skate or to avoid the bad habits that were taught to me when I started.”

Douglas said the most important part of his career is the coaching he does for youth and adult sled hockey players, as he hosts sled clinics all over the country. 

His wife has said that half of the country will know who Douglas is by the time his career ends because he has helped with their local programs. 

Nowhere is his work more evident than in Minot, North Dakota, the site of last week’s 2024 Sled Series between the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. National Sled Team and the U.S. Women’s Development Sled Team both finished 3-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) against their northern rivals.

The series is took place at MAYSA Arena, which has been Douglas’ home arena ever since he moved from his home state of Florida to Minot in 2018. 

“I have a key to the rink. I get to skate anytime I want,” he said. “I’m at the rink quite often. It’s only like a mile up the road. This whole town’s only two or three miles wide, so everything is super close, very convenient.”

Douglas is a well-known figure in Minot and quite active in the community. He said that the Sled Series has been a revelation to its residents.

“I’m glad that our town gets to see it,” he said. “Everyone kind of knows what I do. They’ve seen pictures or they’ve seen YouTube videos or little snippets of it.”

The townspeople got a chance to witness the real thing with double-header game days on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and the turnout was impressive. 

With a day off Thursday, the U.S. team visited a local elementary school where about 450 students awaited the players.

“They asked some questions. The older ones had really good ones,” Douglassaid. “We just did a quick introduction and then opened up to questions. Just about every kid had a question.”

Douglas has been refining his sled hockey skills since he discovered the sport in 2011 after he sustained a spinal cord injury while he was still in Florida.

“I didn’t have that many sled players to play with,” he said. “It’s taken me quite a while to learn the sport, and I’m obviously still learning, which is cool. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning, no matter how long I play.”

Douglas eventually made it to the U.S. National Sled Team in 2014. 

The 33-year-old forward, who has won four World Para ice Hockey Championship gold medals and one silver, plans to continue playing recreational sled hockey even after his competitive career eventually comes to an end.

“I always thought I’d play for as long as I possibly can, or as long as my body would let me, anyway,” he said. “Hockey is definitely never going to end for me.”

No matter what the future holds, Douglas said he’s thankful for his experience.

“Without being involved with USA Hockey, who knows where I would have been at?” he said. “I have a great life because of it, and I’m very thankful. I wouldn’t be here without the USA Hockey experience.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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