How has life with hockey led you to Team USA?
"I grew up playing hockey, mostly roller hockey, and had perfect vision. Around two and a half years ago, I lost most of my central vision and became legally blind with a visual acuity of 20/800 due to a genetic disorder called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. When my vision loss happened, a blind hockey player with my same condition, Brody Mackenzie, told me about blind hockey and I became curious and then went to my first blind hockey tournament, the San Jose USA Disabled Hockey Festival in 2016. This was my first experience with blind hockey and I got hooked. I continued to play in Montreal and Pittsburg and then was invited to Chicago to try out for the USA Blind Hockey Team and I was blown away to have the opportunity. I made it on the team at the tryout and it was surreal to think that I would get to play hockey for my country when I first thought that I wouldn’t be able to continue to play hockey when I was first diagnosed with my vision condition."
What does Blind Hockey mean to you?
"Blind hockey means so much to me. It allows me to play hockey at the most competitive level I have ever played, I get to represent my country, it has given me a community of other blind people that are amazing people and great support, and it has allowed me to inspire others and grow the game. It is empowering and freeing to be able to feel like I am playing the same game I used to play. It is powerful to be a part of something that inspires others and helps other blind people to get out and play hockey because it means so much more to all of us than just playing a game."
What does being a member of Team USA mean to you?
"I never thought to dream big enough to think that I could ever play a sport wearing a USA jersey growing up, but life takes turns that seem like they are for the worse, but in reality, it has brought one of the most amazing opportunities of my life by playing for Team USA. It is an honor and unreal feeling to put on a USA jersey and to represent my country. It is motivation to work hard and a reminder of how fortunate I am to live in this country. Playing for Team USA makes me excited for the future to one day hopefully get the chance to play in the Paralympics."
Who is your favorite team or favorite player?
Los Angeles Kings
Who is your hockey hero in your life?
"My hockey heroes are the San Marcos High Knights Roller Hockey Team. I played for the team in high school and was able to continue to play throughout my vision loss and they were some of the best support as they helped me to continue to play hockey and supported and encouraged my journey with blind hockey. My dad was the coach, and he encouraged me and pushed me to continue to be the best hockey player I could be. My teammates treated me like any other player and it made me realize that I can still play hockey like anybody else and will find new ways to succeed in the sport like blind hockey. That team meant a lot to me and did a lot to grow me to the hockey player that I am today."
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|
Fran & Jean Wrage