How has your life with hockey led you to Team USA?
"I used to play a lot of individual and team sports before vision loss – unfortunately, where I grew up, our school system was too small and underfunded to afford fielding a football team, let alone locate any nearby ice rinks or pay for pricey hockey equipment. I had always watched all of the Olympic hockey games every four years for nearly all of my life and had wished I could try it out, but the opportunity was never there.
After I went blind, I felt athletics, likewise, were completely lost for me, aside from things like weight training or running on a treadmill and using a stationary bike.
So, when my friend and Washington Wheelers teammate Craig Fitzpatrick prodded me to try blind hockey not quite three years ago, I was admittedly really skeptical anyone could skate, handle a puck and shoot while blind – the game is almost entirely visual; it was like someone telling me I could become a Formula 1 driver.
But I am glad he and Matt Morrow (International Blind Ice Hockey Director) persisted because I am now hooked and the best part for me is that it is the same exact sport I remember enjoying seeing in great detail visually, so I have a vivid mental 3-D picture of everything from the jerseys, to the skates, to the face-off circles and even the dejected looks of seated players relegated to the lonely sin bin, hahaha.
Even better, I am now a member of Team USA, super proud to wear the USA letters and excited to represent my country in a new – but traditional – sport. It’s as close as I can get to being a player on the Olympics USA teams I’ve enjoyed watching all of my life!"
What does blind hockey mean to you?
"For me, blind hockey represents courage, hope for the bright future of the sport, comraderie with teammates who are both amazing players and incredible people both on and off the ice, freedom from the dearth of athletics options for people who are blind, freedom from the temptation to backslide into an unfulfilling sedentary life, and freedom from the low expectations people have of the capabilities of people who are blind.
But it means so much more to me than my role as a player. It gives me a lump in my throat to think that blind hockey is going to give a little kid out there somewhere who is struggling with vision loss the courage, self-esteem and confidence he or she needs to become self-sufficient and a success in life.
I was lucky. I never knew what it was like to struggle with a sensory disability until my adult years – so, for me, helping build confidence in kids during their formative years is worth everything."
What does being a member of Team USA mean to you?
"Like I said, it means everything. – an enormous sense of pride. I feel fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity to represent my country while also supporting my amazing teammates. I am driven to perform at my very best for both and I will stop at nothing to be the best goalie I can possibly be for both of them."
Favorite Hockey Player/Team:
Present: Washington Capitals and Braden Holtby
Past: The Great One
"Saying that, I am going to throw in the Blackhawks Scott Foster. He is proof that dreams do come true especially in the midst of the doubters."
Hockey hero in your life (coach, parents, teammate, mentor, friend)?
"My Washington Wheeler teammates, my Team USA teammates and every single one of our managers, coaches, volunteers and supporters who donate their time and believe in what blind hockey truly represents. All of them are my heroes."
Help Support USA Blind Hockey’s Journey to the Paralympics.
Fresh off an exciting inaugural year, Team USA Blind Hockey Team is skating right into a brand new season! In just a year, Team USA has gone from tryouts full-fledged international team. Following our training camp last year, Team USA faced off against Canada in the FIRST-EVER international competition. After that series in Pittsburgh in October, Team USA ventured north of the border to take on Canada in Toronto.
This tremendous growth wouldn't be possible without out an amazing level of support from our fans, friends and family!
As we continue to build up the sport of blind hockey in the United States, we need YOUR help to reach our fundraising goal for operating expenses for the team. Our players and coaches have been putting it all on the ice to build this team so quickly, and after one round of competitive play against Canada, they are hungry to do battle again.
Your support will give these blind hockey athletes the opportunity to participate and compete in these events. All donations will go directly to the team to help with player transportation, equipment, custom blind hockey pucks, and all the other costs of starting a brand-new team. Let’s help these athletes flourish, and show them that they have our support as we grow the sport of Blind Hockey.
The sport of blind hockey has tripled in size since when it was first implemented at the USA Hockey Disabled Festival in 2016 and we’re incredibly proud of our first Team USA for blind hockey.
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Groups and individuals raising money for the same goal.
|Dave Svac - Asst. Coach||0||$0|
|Doris Donley - GM Team Operations||1||$20|
|Ian Essling - Staff||0||$0|
|Kline Donley - Asst. Coach||1||$200|
|Malisa Komalarajun - Staff||2||$33|
|Mike Svac - Head Coach/GM Hockey Operations||0||$0|
|Nick Albicocco - Asst. Coach||0||$0|