Monarchs tourney raises funds for special needs program


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  • PHOTO BY MARK CRANSTON Monarchs Joey Vaspory, Alex Hamblen, Alex Anson and Luke Butler are all suited up for the Thanksgiving weekend tournament in Stockholm. Butler, Hamblen and Vaspory are all from West Milford; Anson is from Highland Lakes.



The Monarchs, a Learn to Skate program for young athletes with special needs, held its 3rd annual invitational tournament over Thanksgiving weekend.

The tourney helped raised funds for the organization, which is based out of Skylands Ice World in Stockholm, but draws participants from all over, including West Milford. The tournament is made possible because, organizers say, a close partnership with Rita Mitchell and Patrick Choules, general manager and hockey director respectively, at the ice rink. Organizers said the weekend was a huge success with participating local hockey teams from as far away as New York state and Pennsylvania. Divisions included Mites (ages 8 and under), Squirts (ages 10 and under) and Pee Wees (ages 12 and under) teams. Winners by division were: Mite Beginner: Mahwah/Ramsey Hockey Mite Intermediate: NJ Colonials Red Squirt AA: Montclair Blues

Pee Wee AA: NJ Wolves Four Monarchs skaters who have progressed through the program starting with Learn to Skate and into the Learn to Play Hockey were eligible to play with the Skylands House hockey team during the tourney.

They were: Alex Anson, Highland Lakes: Luke Butler, West Milford; Alex Hamblen, West Milford; and Joey Vaspory. West Milford. Alex Anson, who is 5 years old, even scored his first hockey goal. Brad Myers, founder of the Monarchs, said afterwards that it was wonderful to see all the teams coming out in support of our program, coming together to help raise money and volunteering their time to pitch in and help."

"Ice hockey is not an inexpensive sport and The Monarchs rely on fundraising to keep our programs affordable for everyone," Meyers added.

All money raised from the tournament goes directly back to the Monarchs program to help offset the cost of tuition and equipment. The Monarchs is open to anyone interested in learning to skate. After mastering the basics, Monarchs players are given the opportunity to move into the Special Hockey program or Special Olympics Speed Skating. Monarchs skaters will participate in the Special Olympics New Jersey Winter games in February, 2018. The Monarchs are a non-profit collaborative initiative to enable participation in organized youth sports programs with a focus on teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play through scholarships, access to facilities and equipment, player and coaching development and mentoring. Participants develop positive self-esteem and learn skills to help them lead healthy, successful lives.

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