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Photos: Alex Ovechkin leads youth hockey clinic for kids with disabilities

Nearly 50 youth hockey players with disabilities took to the ice in Ballston this week to sharpen their skills with Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.

On Wednesday, members of the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) convened at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex to spend several hours learning various skating techniques and skills from Ovechkin and other Capitals players, including Aliaksei Protas, Matthew Phillips and Alexander Alexeyev.

Ovi has been hosting this Caps-sponsored clinic for ASHA — which supports individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities through hockey — for a decade, though it took a hiatus during the pandemic.

“Ovechkin has been an ASHA ambassador since the first skate in 2014 and most recently made a donation to the ASHA to help cover ice costs for 136 special hockey teams across the United States,” per a Capitals press release. “The donation supported more than 5,260 athletes and nearly 400 coaches.”

ASHA Executive Director Jennifer O’Brien told ARLnow that while the donation was vital for the organization, Ovechkin’s personal commitment — in terms of time, money and energy — is especially significant.

“The big thing people should know is that sometimes people donate things and they kind of do it through the organization or whatever,” O’Brien said. “He does this personally. And so we take it personally and appreciate him for that reason.”

Established in 2007, ASHA currently serves over 8,000 members, representing 136 special hockey teams nationally. There are three ASHA teams in the D.C. area, per the release.

Most ASHA members who attended the clinic came from either the D.C. region or other East Coast locales, said O’Brien.

In addition to his work with ASHA, Ovechkin established “Ovi’s 8’s” in 2006, a program dedicated to providing tickets to Capitals games for underprivileged children.

“Since then, more than 5,700 individuals have had a chance to see a game free of charge, including many ASHA participants,” the team said.

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