By Michael Svac, USA Hockey Central District Disabled Hockey Representative
When the weather starts to cool off in Chicago, we all know it’s time for some hockey. But in Dallas, Texas, the heat in the kitchen can sometimes be very hot and this past weekend it was 98 degrees. The good news – it is still time to play some hockey and the ice is not melting.
Recently, two coaches from the Chicago Blackhawks Blind Hockey team relocated to the Dallas suburbs. They are now helping a team of local volunteers start a new Blind Hockey Program in Dallas.
Sharon and Wally Dehn, veteran coaches in disabled hockey, were on site at the Children’s Health StarCenter to help kick off the first Try Hockey event for Blind Hockey with Rink Manager Mark Servaes and the Dallas Blind Hockey Director, Howard Kitto, and his wife and team manager, Jennifer Kitto who are both from the Dallas area.
“The amount of support we had was amazing! We had over 30 volunteers come out to support our event. Without the support of the volunteers and the management team at the rink, this event could not have happened today,” said Sharon Dehn, team manager.
Sixteen players participated in the first-ever blind try hockey event, many of whom had never put on a pair of hockey skates before this day. Overall the program was a huge success and the team will have its first official practice on October 12th.
Coach Wally Dehn, who was helping with the more advanced players on the ice, said, “This was an exciting day… listening to the players talk about how much fun they are having on the ice, wearing the equipment and that they are now ‘hockey players’. USA Hockey does this right as hockey is for everyone and everybody, and nothing is more rewarding than giving an opportunity to others especially when it involves playing hockey.”