POMPTON LAKES, N.J. -- A young filmmaker from Pompton Lakes is working to share with audiences how hockey can create a feeling of extended family -- as well as inclusiveness for some who might feel isolated.
The working title of Steven Niemann's film is "Hockey: A Game for All." It's about the American Special Hockey Association. Formed in 2000, ASHA was created for players of all ages with developmental disabilities.
Niemann studied film at Five Towns College. "This is my first big project since I graduated," he told Daily Voice. "My entire crew is made up of people I worked with while there."
Niemann has a developmental disability, himself. "I spent most of my years in school in resource classes, mostly for English, and worked hard to move past them."
And those classes didn't just help him in his academics: it's helped him create relationships with people who have a variety of disabilities.
His brother and sister also have developmental disabilities, and his brother is a fellow player on the local ASHA team. "The three of us are lucky when it comes to our disability as we get to live independently," Niemann said.
"Some people with disabilities will always need someone else to take care of them, for many different reasons," he explained.
"We have players on the team with all different levels of disabilities."
Playing hockey gives these individuals the chance to be a part of something that they normally wouldn't be a part of. It is a great place for them to meet other people and become friends and connect with people outside of their families. It's also a great place for the parents and siblings: it gives them a place as well, that they get to be around other people who have been through certain things. It is a support system for them as well.
Niemann has been involved with ASHA for three seasons, now. He's a player, and he also helps younger players with their skating and passing. He's not a team captain, he said, but he has a personal leadership role with the players.
"It truly is a family feeling you have," he said, when you attend these games and tournaments. "These are stories that should be shared with the world, and this association is one that more people should know about."
And people can help Niemann share these stories: he's created a GoFundMe campaign, to help finance the production and marketing for the film. Any excess funds will be donated to ASHA affiliated programs. His initial goal is $20,000.
"I have created many memories I will never forget and stories that I love to share with everyone," he explained on the website. "The smiles you get to see on a player's face when they score a goal has been permanently etched into my brain."
The GoFundMe campaign has a variety of reward levels, as well. Here are a few:
- for $20 donations, donors will be thanked in the documentary's credits;
- for $150, donors will receive a signed DVD of the documentary and a digital download, as well as the thanks in the credits; and
- at the top tier, $2,500 donors will get co-producer credit, as well as a signed DVD and a digital download.