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 Incredible Inaugural Year!
We are extremely excited that the inaugural year of Team USA Blind Hockey Team has been so successful already! In just a few short months, Team USA has gone from tryouts in April, to a training camp in July, to the FIRST-EVER international competition in October. This tremendous growth wouldn't be possible without out an amazing level of support from our fans, friends and family!
The first-ever games of international blind hockey were played in Pittsburgh in October, as Team USA took on Canada in a 3 game series - check out some of the game action here: International Series Game 2
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 this first ever team. Our players and coaches have been putting it all on the ice to build this team so quickly, and after one series versus Canada, they are hungry to do battle again. This time, we'll be taking our talents north, as Team USA heads to Canada for the next international competition.
You can help us claim that glory! 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.
The sport of blind hockey has tripled in size since when it was first implemented at the USA Hockey Disabled Festival in 2016. With your contribution we can help continue to grow the sport of blind hockey across this great nation and as well the world! Blind hockey has shown tremendous momentum in all different parts of the country and we’re incredibly proud of our first Team USA for blind hockey.
Thank you in advance for your support!
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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|
|Kevin Allison - Asst. Coach||0||$0|
|Kline Donley - Asst. Coach||1||$200|
|Malisa Komalarajun - Staff||1||$11|
|Mike Svac - Head Coach/GM Hockey Operations||0||$0|
|Nick Albicocco - Asst. Coach||0||$0|
Fran & Jean Wrage