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Building a Community: The Vegas Golden Chariots and the Rise of Sled Hockey

As hockey fever swept through Las Vegas with the arrival of the Vegas Golden Knights to the NHL, the local community witnessed the emergence of an inspiring youth sled hockey team, the Vegas Golden Chariots. This team was created with the goal of making hockey accessible to children with physical disabilities and able-bodied children who were eager to experience a different form of the sport. The team not only teaches these kids the game of hockey but also gives them a sense of belonging and community.

The Birth of the Golden Chariots

The initiative began with Team President Chad Smith, who saw the potential for an inclusive hockey team. “We wanted to give our kids an opportunity to play sled hockey,” Smith explained. “We reached out to the Vegas Golden Knights, and they connected us with the right people to establish a 501(c)(3) organization to run our youth team. It’s incredible to see how it has grown.”

The support from the Vegas Golden Knights was instrumental in the formation and success of the Golden Chariots. Their involvement highlighted the team’s commitment to inclusivity and community engagement.

Volunteers and Coaches: The Backbone of the Team

City Engineering Technician Tony Esposito was among the first to volunteer as a coach. “I didn’t even need to make a decision,” Esposito recalled. “After the end of that first season, it was easy to commit to many more. It felt good helping out such a great cause. Sled hockey is a confidence builder for these kids. For many of them, it isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about getting the opportunity to be a part of a sports community.”

For Josh Muscari, one of the original team members, the Golden Chariots provided a sense of community and nurtured his love for hockey. After aging out of the team at 20, Muscari transitioned from player to coach. “I knew I wanted to continue staying in touch with the team,” Muscari said. “I wanted to inspire younger players to give back and volunteer. It’s just a fun thing to do.”

From Player to Coach: Scott Chalmers’ Journey

Head Coach Scott Chalmers became involved with the Golden Chariots after his son discovered sled hockey at a Clark County School District (CCSD) paralympic night event in 2017. “I asked to come out and help as a coach,” Chalmers said. “After a few seasons of being an assistant coach, Tony thought I should be head coach since I was able to travel with the team and attend all practices. Although I sometimes feel like a fish out of water since I didn’t grow up playing organized hockey, it’s been amazing to help coach these incredible kids.”

Inspiring Stories: Francis McCabe’s Love for Sled Hockey

Francis McCabe, one of the team’s standout players, became a fan of hockey when the Golden Knights started. Despite being in a wheelchair, he was determined to learn the sport and found his answer in sled hockey. “I love sled hockey,” said Francis. “I’ve learned a lot, and my coaches have helped me get better. I’ve been playing for six years now and still have so much fun.”

Community Support: The Key to Success

The Vegas Golden Chariots attribute their success to the unwavering support from the local community and various foundations. Families like the Bartholomews, the Olivers, and the Swansons, along with the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation and the Englestad Foundation, provide essential resources such as volunteers, ice time, travel expenses, and equipment.

In recognition of his contributions, Tony Esposito was honored with the 2024 Mayor’s Award for Community Excellence. Despite the accolade, Esposito humbly credits the community and everyone involved with the Golden Chariots. “It takes a community to make this team work,” he emphasized.


The Vegas Golden Chariots exemplify the spirit of inclusivity and community in sports. By providing an accessible platform for children with disabilities to play hockey, they have fostered a strong, supportive environment that extends beyond the rink. This remarkable team continues to thrive thanks to the dedication of its volunteers, coaches, and the broader Las Vegas community.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is based on the available data and current events around the time of publication, to the best of our staff research and knowledge. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice, financial advice, sports betting advice, or life advice. It is simply our best guess, something to add to your research. We at Las Vegas Top Picks do our best to get stories accurate, but sometimes mistakes and biases happen, and it is always good to double-check other sources and media outlets to confirm stories and the factual details. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the overall opinion of Las Vegas Top Picks.

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