The Chicago Blackhawks Warriors are a hockey team comprising military veterans who were injured in combat and now live in the Chicago area. The Warriors, who are sponsored by the Chicago Blackhawks, faced Blackhawks alumni on April 1 at Mount Prospect Ice Arena.
After the game, which served as a benefit for the Warriors, Pioneer Press contributor Steve Reaven caught up with several players to discuss what the team means to them.
Q: What is the most beneficial aspect of wholesale MLB jerseys playing on a team with other combat veterans?
Matthew Gran, Indian Creek: It's nice to be around other vets who know what it's like to serve and have been through a lot of the same things you have. Many areas of life after getting out (of the military), there aren't a lot of veterans around.
Richard Duzinskas, Bensenville: It brings you that camaraderie that you're missing because we all understand what we've been through. You get the same joking around that you had in the barracks back in the day. It really makes you feel like a family.
Brian Torkelson, Grayslake: It's easy to bond and relate to each other. It gives a time to forget about the demons that haunt all of us. It's a safe place that almost feels like you're back in the military.
Kevin Sharwarko, Oak Lawn: We all know each other's stories and backgrounds. It's something that you can't find someplace else but with veterans. I was very anti-social coming out of the military. There are a lot of stigmas associated with having PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury), so sometimes civilians look at you in a different light.
Q: What level of previous hockey experience did you have prior to joining the Warriors?
Travis Newberg, Long Grove: My mom was a figure skater, and she took me to lessons when I was a kid, but I played football and baseball more. Three years ago, my girlfriend and I were talking, and I said, 'I think I'm going to go buy hockey skates.' Then two weeks later, I thought to go play in an adult league. I found the Warriors, and I've been playing ever since.
Eddie Kerrigan, Northbrook: I played up until about first grade cheap jerseys, got out of it for reasons I still don't know. My dad played hockey and so did my uncle, so hockey has been in my family forever. When I was coming out of the military, looking for an outlet, I said to myself, 'I'm going to start playing hockey again.'
Kevin Errandi, Darien: I played pond hockey, backyard-type stuff when I was a kid, played in the street, but never anything even remotely competitive up until October, when I joined the team.
Stephen Foster, New Lenox: I taught myself how to skate three years ago, so I'm learning on the fly every game. I've gotten significantly better. I can actually stand up, and I'm still working on stopping.
Q: How has playing with the Blackhawks Warriors helped you physically or mentally?
Bill Davidson, Lincolnshire: Hockey is so much about problem-solving. It's extremely physical, so it kind of tires the mind. Your mind doesn't have a chance to race. For 60 or 75 minutes, you can't think about anything else — all you're doing is being physically fit and thinking about problem-solving on ice. It's awesome.
Kerrigan: It's a great workout, and there's something to be said about mental health and working out. They go hand-in-hand. You feel great coming off the ice, and hanging out with the guys in the locker room makes you feel great.
Foster: It keeps me active. Coming out with these guys, we joke around and have fun, and we get that mental health help that we need while also being physically fit.
Errandi: I had a pretty rough time when I got out of the military, especially with my disabilities wholesale nfl jerseys. I was going through a divorce, and I moved around a lot. Coming out on the ice and relaxing and being around people who are like-minded means everything to me. It's what keeps me grounded.
Duzinskas: It's helped me get out of the house, it's given me exercise. It just kind of keeps you going, keeps you motivated to get up and do something every weekend.