By Charles J. Haymond, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 18, 2019
The Nebraska Warriors hockey team scrimmages Sept. 22, 2019, at Ralston Arena in Ralston, Nebraska. The Warriors is a team of disabled and non-disabled veterans who participated in the fourth annual USA Hockey Warrior Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada from Oct. 3-6. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)
On Oct. 3 – 6, 2019, the Nebraska Warriors hockey team travelled to Las Vegas, Nevada, to participate in the fourth annual United States of America Hockey Warrior Classic.
The team, comprised of men and women who are disabled and non-disabled veterans, came together to become far more than just a hockey team - they are a brotherhood.
“It has helped me out so much that I don’t have near as many problems mentally as I use to,” said Robert Cludinski, Nebraska Warrior support director and player. “It is the camaraderie you had when you were in the service and you put on the uniform every day and you go to work and you see your brothers it is the exact same thing here.”
In Dec. 2018, Jim Nordman and a couple of his friends received tickets to attend a hockey game consisting of the Kansas City Warriors versus the Minnesota Warriors before a Kansas City Maverick game. The uniqueness of those teams are that the players are disabled veterans.
After the game, Nordman met with the players from each team and saw the expressions of fun they were experiencing with one another. Nordman and his friends knew they had to bring this experience back to Nebraska.
“On the three hour car ride home, we organized,” said Nordman, Nebraska Warriors president and player. “We started making phone calls. We went from three members to ten members in the matter of three hours, the rest is history - we blew up from there.”
The Nebraska Warriors, now a 41 member team of veterans, searching for a sense of normalcy searching for more than just a trophy.
“It’s a lot like being back in the military,” Nordman said. “I’ve been out for five years from the service and being back on the ice with this group of individuals is fulfilling. Brings back the memories of being in the unit, being in my platoon in the army.”
The Team is always looking for team member, not only veterans who are highly skilled in skating on ice but also those who do not have experience.
“It is veterans helping veterans,” said Jason Steiner, Nebraska Warriors coach and vice president of hockey operations. “We have higher skating guys that will actually grab some of the lower guys and help them out. Show them what to do and give them some pointers on skating and hockey in general.”
The Nebraska Warriors finished the tournament this year with a record of 1-2-1 and were ranked fourth out of eighth in their division.
For those who are looking to support or become part of the Nebraska Warrior hockey team, contact them at email@example.com.