Hockey Mentors is slated to host its second annual hockey event on July 8 at Buffalo Wild Wings Arena in Troy.

Hockey Mentors is slated to host its second annual hockey event on July 8 at Buffalo Wild Wings Arena in Troy.

Photo provided by Wyatt Lucas

Troy native creates Hockey Mentors for Special Olympians

Second annual event to take place July 8

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Troy Times | Published June 29, 2023


TROY — At the core of every sport is a sense of community and love, and there are no boundaries determining who can or cannot be a part of that.

Troy native and Lawrence Technological University student Wyatt Lucas, who graduated from Troy High School in 2021, understood the importance of comradery through his days on the Troy varsity hockey team, and also during his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout.

For him, the beauty of both worlds, Boy Scouts and hockey, became something he would be able to share with everyone as he thought of a project to obtain his Eagle Scout rank.

“I was trying to make a project for trying to get my Eagle Scout, and I was like, ‘I know one thing I very much enjoy and other people can enjoy too is hockey,’” Lucas said. “So, I was thinking of a way to make an event for hockey that will fit in for all people. One of the things when I was doing my research on it is that hockey is literally playable by anyone regardless of your disabilities, because there’s sled hockey, amputee hockey, blind hockey, deaf hockey; there’s just so many options regardless of your disability.”

On June 11 of last year at Troy Sports Center, Hockey Mentors for Special Olympians, a nonprofit organization, was born as Lucas held his first event, in conjunction with Special Olympics Michigan, with over 100 participants, various sponsors and other disabled hockey teams taking part in the event.

With such an impressive turnout and seeing the ear-to-ear smiles from participants, Lucas said it was a no-brainer to hold another event this year.

“The feedback on the event was insane,” Lucas said. “So many people were asking if this event was going to happen again, people were asking how they could sign up again and when it would be, and so on and so forth. So many parents were ecstatic, and some were in tears, just happy for their kid to see them smile like that and have a really good time.”

Now, Hockey Mentors will host its second annual event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 8 at Buffalo Wild Wings Arena, formerly Troy Sports Center, where participants will receive a Hockey Mentors jersey and T-shirt, enjoy an afternoon of skating with trained instructors, watch and participate in a hockey game that takes place between teams whose players have special needs, and enjoy a provided lunch. Equipment such as jerseys, helmets, sticks and gloves will be provided.

Marc Henretta, who took part in the event last year along with some fellow Michigan Sled Dogs teammates, now Belle Tire Metro Detroit Sled Hockey, has been involved with the sled hockey community for 15 years from both a player and coach perspective, since he suffered a broken back.

In sled hockey, a player sits in a specially designed sled that sits on top of two skate blades, which is specifically designed for players who have physical disabilities.

Henretta said he was pleasantly surprised by the impact that Lucas made in his first event.

“First of all, it was incredible to see somebody as young as Wyatt that’s responsible and that really cares about the community, really cares about boys and girls, and mankind in general,” Henretta said. “Honestly, I’ve never seen anybody in all of my days that’s this dedicated and devoted to helping people learn the game of hockey than Wyatt. I got a lovely opportunity to meet his mom and his dad at the last Hockey Mentors, and I can absolutely see where he gets his passion and his drive from. His mom and dad are exactly the same way. They’re just wonderful people.”

A team captain and director for the adult team and treasurer of the 7-17 junior team for Belle Tire Sled Hockey, Henretta said there’s nothing more enjoyable than watching players gain confidence through the sport.

“I’ve firsthand witnessed with little kids who were tired of going to school, tired of people staring at them, tired of people making fun of them, and just different things where the kids don’t have any confidence in themselves at all,” Henretta said. “They come out and try sled hockey, and I’m not kidding you, it’s a 180-degree switch. Now, the kids have purpose and their lives have meaning, and they can’t wait to skate every Sunday. I’ve seen total transformation with three or four of our younger players that have just been the happiest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

Royal Oak native Anthony Kucharski, who plays for Michigan Flyers Hockey in St. Clair Shores, participated in the Hockey Mentors event last year as well, and he said he was thrilled with one aspect of the event.

“Meeting new people,” Kucharski said.

The Michigan Flyers is a team that supports the growth of hockey players with developmental or physical disabilities and competes nationwide throughout the year.

Like his favorite player, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider, Kucharski is a force to be reckoned with on the ice, and he’s amped up to take part in this year’s event as well.

“It was a really good time,” Kucharski’s mother, Colleen Kucharski, said. “We’re really looking forward to this one.”

Several teammates from Lucas’ Troy varsity hockey team took part in the event as well, donating any equipment they could get their hands on and helping out on the ice.

It’s an event that gets the entire community involved, and that family continues to grow with every participant it impacts.

“To me, it just makes me happy to help my community and help those around me get interested in a sport I love dearly, and have them find fun as well,” Lucas said. “Especially when it comes to the disabled community, they don’t get to do a lot because there are so many things that prevent them from doing that. This is just a way to kind of open that door up and do more and enjoy more things.”

As Lucas continues to grow Hockey Mentors, his impact doesn’t stop on the ice.

Lucas is currently studying biomedical engineering at Lawrence Tech with the hopes of developing prosthetics for children to help them gain confidence in their everyday lives. If that’s not impressive enough, he’s also earning his private pilot license as well.

There’s a future with Hockey Mentors as the family grows each year, but Lucas said he wants to enjoy it one step at a time.

“I’m looking forward to the future of what I can do with it or how much bigger can I make it, and just what ways can I just continue that,” Lucas said. “At the same time, I am just taking it one day at a time because I want there to be progress and I want there to be successes on the way there.”

For more information on Hockey Mentors or to sign up for the event, visit