There’s an old sports saying that says, “To play the game is good, to win is better, but to love the game is the best of all.” Josh Schichtl can relate to this statement because he’s had a life-long love of hockey. “I’ve been playing hockey off and on my whole life but regularly the last 10 years,” Schichtl said. “I’ve been involved with the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program for close to 10 years. My friend Charles Ehm and I started the Tampa Warriors this past November. I’m the team director and captain.” In addition to being a hockey player, Schichtl served in the Army for 12 years and was deployed to Iraq three times. “I’m medically retired after being wounded by a roadside bomb where I lost my right eye and a part of my upper and lower jaw,” Schichtl said.
The USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program is headquartered in Washington D.C. but Schichtl is a FishHawk resident and runs the Tampa Warriors which is a chapter of the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program. The USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program is a non-profit that was organized to operate exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, for those wounded in defense of the United States.
The program’s mission is to organize and administer an ice hockey program that provides a recreational, therapeutic experience and education. The program educates, trains, motivates, and encourages the formation of USA Warrior Hockey Programs locally and nationally while encouraging individuals who have physical disabilities incurred during service to the United States to participate in the sport of ice hockey in an environment that is adapted to the level of their ability. The program is staffed by volunteers, on-ice and off-ice mentors and directors who do not receive any compensation, stipend or other remuneration for their time. “We now have an affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightning and with their guidance we have created a Tampa Bay Service League, also called the Heroes League,” Schichtl said. “It includes our team, the Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough Fire Department and Tampa Fire Department. We are looking to branch out and find others in the area that we consider heroes, such as doctors, nurses and teachers and then form teams with each.”
Schichtl hopes his team can be there for other Veterans in the community. “Our biggest hope is that we are able to continue to help fellow veterans,” Schichtl said. “We want to be able to provide some of that missing camaraderie that we lost; a new sense of brotherhood if you will, and maybe we can help someone from making a fateful decision.”