During the summer, the Utica College campus received a visit from some very special guests. The campus hosted the USA Blind Hockey team for a few days while they played in the area.
Their games took place at the Whitestown Arena, about a 14 minute drive from campus. They were brought in by the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
The team includes players ages 17 and older but consists of all different age groups. Two female players, who are sisters, are also on the team.
While staying at UC, the team got the opportunity to work with some of the students from the wellness and adventure major. The students engaged in team-building activities with the players.
They went through three different stations; two of which were ground-based and the other utilized the challenge course in the Clark Athletic Center. The students worked with and supervised the players as they took on the challenge course.
Department Chair and Assistant Professor of Wellness and Adventure Timothy Abraham was pleased with the visit.
“I think both sides got a lot out of it. It was great to see smiles on everyone’s faces and the students really connecting with the athletes,” Abraham said.
Abraham observed that the students and players meshed well while working with each other. Some of the students even went running with the players during their workouts.
The team played three games in Oneida County. The Thursday and Friday games were closed to the public, but the Saturday game was open for spectators.
It is played a little different than the standard version of hockey. Whenever the puck goes into the opponent’s end, one pass must be made before taking a shot and the referees send an audio signal to the players when they are able to shoot.
Utica College basketball player Hunter Remley is inspired by their story.
“What they are doing is amazing because it shows that there are no limits to what you can achieve,” Remley said. “Despite their disability, they are still able to play the sport that they love.”
Some players on the team are not only defying their disability, but they are also defying age, too. The 17-and-up team allows players of all ages and backgrounds to play hockey.
The USA Blind Hockey Team has a player over age 50 on the roster who still plays at a high level. Wellness and adventure major Christian Carman would work with the team if he got the chance.
“If they ever came back to campus I would definitely work with them,” Carman said. “They are super inspiring. After all, one of the main reasons I chose this major was to be able to help others.”
The team manager said that the players couldn’t stop talking about their visit with the students. They hope to come back to UC and in order to complete more exercises in the future.