© Jocelyn Turner - Amherst Daily News
Michael Noiles (right) hands the sticks to Cumberland County Peewee AA Ramblers coach Mike Fullerton after Wednesday night’s practice. Noiles may not be one of the players on the ice, but he is very much apart of the team.
AMHERST – He may not be able to don a pair of skates and score some goals, but Michael Noiles is just as much a part of the Cumberland County Amherst Pharmasave Peewee AA Ramblers as any of the players.
“It was brought to my attention by my assistant coach Stephen Pugsley,” said Peewee coach Mike Fullerton. “Noiles’ mother informed me that Michael was unable to play any sports due to his condition. We thought it would be nice that if he couldn’t play, that he could at least be a part of the team.”
Eight-year-old Noiles was recently diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease which affects the nerves outside the brain and spine. Because of his disorder, Noiles is limited on what kinds of physical activity he is able to participate in.
Fullerton said the team has 17 players and both the players and coaches consider Noiles to be the team’s 18th player.
“He’s been adopted into our hockey family,” he said. “It makes him feel like part of the team. He can’t play, but I think he enjoys whether we ask him to do something or he sits in the dressing room with us and takes it all in.”
The coach added that he thought it was unfortunate that Noiles is unable to join in in the sports he loves because every child should be able to get out on the field or the ice with their friends.
“It’s great to be on a team but I wish I could regular hockey,” said Noiles. “But it feels good to be on a team and not just watching.”
As part of the team, Noiles gets to fills the players’ water bottles, pick up their sticks and sharpen their skates. Noiles has even been invited to join them on their away games. But the best part for Noiles is being involved.
“I’ve made new friends,” he said. “It just feels good to be doing something and not be bored watching hockey on TV.”
Noiles’ mother Juanita said she couldn’t be happier watching her son get involved, even if he’s unable to join the players on the ice.
“I love it,” she said. “He comes to practices and watches team work skills and so on. I like seeing him happy.”