HAMILTON – This weekend, the Colgate University Women’s Hockey team will dedicate a pair of home games to its annual community service project, all in an effort to raise autism awareness and to benefit Autism Speaks, the Family Resource Network, the Kelberman Center and Project Oz.
The team’s inspiration? Norwich High School junior and Colgate Women’s Hockey Team Manager Kati Williams.
Kati, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2005, has been an avid fan of the team for approximately five years, according to her mother Jacki. In the past two years, the local student has performed as a team manager for Colgate Women’s Hockey.
Asperger’s Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction – in addition to restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior – which differs from other forms of autism in that linguistic and cognitive development are relatively unaffected.
“Kati and her family have become a special part of our team and someone that we all look up to for her courage,” stated Colgate University Assistant Athletic Director Shaun Richards. “We all have seen her progress thanks to the great people at Norwich High School and the Family Resource Network.”
Partnered with Autism Speaks, Colgate University has formed its own chapter of Autism Speaks U, to assist the college in educating the community on autism and its impact on families and lives. Launched in 2008, Autism Speaks U is an innovative, collaborative program for college students who wish to raise funds and awareness through special events and promotions for Autism Speaks, added Richards.
As a team manager, Williams’ duties include opening the door to the hockey rink as players and coaches come on and off the ice, organizing the sticks and pucks prior to the game and running any errands the coaches or players might require, said her mother.
“Kati just wanted to have a little more involvement than that of a fan and we’ve been lucky to have her,” said Colgate Women’s Hockey Coach Scott Wiley. “She was a little quiet at first, but you could tell there was a definite interest there. She’s become more outgoing as time has gone on and we’ve seen tremendous growth; that’s been the really cool thing about it.”