How has life with hockey led you to Team USA?
“I played a lot of youth hockey, and really enjoying it growing up. As I got a little older and diagnosed with my condition, I realized things were starting to change. The older I got and the more my condition progressed, it became really hard to track the puck. I used to play all the time, at one point I was playing on four teams, but I had to start playing on lower divisions to make up for my eyes not picking up the puck. It got really frustrating and a little discouraging. When I met Kevin Shanley through Matt Morrow and we were able to connect and start skating together, we had the big [blind hockey] puck and it re-ignited that passion to play hockey. Playing in various tournaments and meeting so many people, it was so fun to play competitively again. Once they put Team USA together – I was so shocked they put this team together so quickly, I thought maybe in another year or two we’d see something like that, but just an incredible email to receive [when the tryouts were announced].”
What does Blind Hockey mean to you?
“It’s everything. When I first got involved, it was so small…just myself and Kevin Shanley, then [sister Victoria Vanturini-McDermott] as well. We got to watch it grow. It was something I was involved with for so long; I interned with Matt [Morrow] in 2012, so it’s a huge part of my life. It’s been really amazing to watch everything grow and change and the amount of people involved now. It’s a really good feeling; I know it’s helped a lot of people. When I first started playing, it was absolutely life changing for me. I came home, and I was on my sister that whole year, because she needed to feel the way I felt and experience this. It really did change my life – it reignites passion. It’s just been incredible for me.”
What does being a member of Team USA mean to you?
“It’s a huge honor. It took a few months for it to really sink in, because I never think of things like that when I’m involved in them. I knew it was important, and it was an honor to put on that jersey, because it’s something everyone dreams of, but it also has that almost surreal feeling. People are watching this, people are inspired this. I never thought of myself as someone who could do that for other people. I’m so happy to be a part of it and watch the sport grow. It’s a blessing to be involved still and be able to play on this team, especially in its first year. I can’t wait to see how this team grows and what it’s going to be like in a few years.”
On playing on Team USA with sister Victoria Vanturini-McDermott:
“I love being on the team with my sister. Sometimes I don’t know how we’d make it through without each other. Her and I are so close, and we have been for so many years, it’d be weird to do it without her. We grew up playing together on the same teams occasionally, because there’s an age gap. Every now and then we weren’t, and when we weren’t, it didn’t feel right. It feels great to have her there.”
“It feels like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I get so incredibly proud of Vicki. I forget sometimes it’s me too; I focus a lot on her in those moments.”
Who is your favorite team or favorite player?
“Ranger fan – have been my whole life. One of my favorite players WAS a Ranger; not a flashy player, but a good grinder – Carl Hagelin. I was super pumped to be able to see his stall in the Penguins locker room [at the International Series in October]. I try to do the same he does; I’m not a finesse player, I know that about myself, I try to get in there and do my job, prevent goals, and get out. That’s a lot how he plays and I’ve always really enjoyed watching him.”
Who is your hockey hero in your life?
“My parents were huge growing up, always taking us everywhere. Honestly I have no idea how they had three kids, taking us everywhere, sometimes on three different teams. I don’t know how they did it, three kids playing travel hockey and getting it done."
"If I had to pick a hero as a player, I have to pick my sister Vicki. I don't usually think of myself as anything other than ordinary doing these things, but when I watch her do them…it’s so special, it’s so amazing to watch. When we were first diagnosed, I was diagnosed first, and then they diagnosed Vicki. And I was really sad, because I would have rather had her vision loss added to mine so she didn’t have to deal with it at all. I’ve just always looked up to her, and she’s just always been such an inspiration to me.”
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||2||$33|
|Mike Svac - Head Coach/GM Hockey Operations||0||$0|
|Nick Albicocco - Asst. Coach||0||$0|
Anthony T Vanturini