Just Ice It

By Brittni Micham, MD

Deep in the heart of hockey country, there is an annual contest only the brave dare enter. Where warriors gather with blades and sticks in an arena of ice to compete for the title of champion. It promises glory, delight, and a little good-natured embarrassment.

Just Ice It is an annual fundraiser for the Mighty Penguins sled hockey team. Every spring, residents and attendings from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UPMC volunteer. There are sled hockey matches, meet-and-greets with players, and a raffle with prizes such as a signed Sidney Crosby jersey and other hockey paraphernalia.

Physician participants don protective gear and strap into adaptive sleds. The first match of the fundraiser pits residents against attendings and it quickly becomes obvious very few are actually skilled in the sport. In fact, for new players, deceleration is often abrupt and secondary to an unintended collision. This particular resident spent much of the first match trying, and ultimately failing, to simply keep the sled upright. The sport is challenging, but incredibly fun to both play and watch.

The experienced attendings usually prevail over the residents and go on to face the Mighty Penguins in the final match. It is here that the skill of true sled hockey players can be appreciated. They race back and forth across the ice, making hairpin turns and launching shots at goal. It is never a close match, even with the Pens taking it easy on us, but it’s always good fun. Not only does the event help provide funding for the team, but it also increases awareness and gives providers an opportunity to be involved in the adaptive sports community. It is a wonderful reminder of why we do what we do.

For more information about the Mighty Penguins, please visit http://penguinssledhockey.org/.

Brittni Micham, MD, is a PGY4 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who is also the Technology Chair of the AAP Resident and Fellow Council.