Canadian Blind Hockey returns to FortiusSeptember 29, 2017 | by Jehan Jiwa
This summer, we were proud to welcome the Canadian Blind Hockey Training Camp back to Fortius for the fourth year running. With back-to-back training days, education and lots of good food, we managed to sneak in a quick interview with one of their organizers and players to learn more about the annual camp.
But first, as many of you are already wondering, what is blind hockey?
BLIND HOCKEY 101
Blind hockey is an adaption of the traditional ice hockey genre for players who are blind or visually impaired. The sport is inclusive of a range of visual impairments, from those who are legally blind (10% vision or less) to full blindness.
Decked out in the same skates, gear and sticks, the most significant modification is a puck that is bigger, slightly slower, and that makes noise.
The nets are slightly smaller than traditional hockey (at 3ft instead of 4ft) to keep the puck lower to the ice. And, the players must complete a pass prior to being able to score to allow the goalie an extra opportunity to track the puck.
THE CANADIAN BLIND HOCKEY CAMP
The annual hockey camp is hosted by the Canadian Blind Hockey Association (CBHA) (formerly known as Courage Canada) who is the governing body of Blind Hockey in Canada. Founded by a group of people who are visually impaired, the organization knows the value of the camp for the athletes.
“People with visual impairment often feel alone in their communities,” explained CBHA Vice President Gary Steeves.
“When they come here, they’re with a bunch of other people who have a similar condition, so they know about the technologies and how they all cope with things in a common way. The socialization aspect is almost more important than the hockey.”
As the annual home-base, Fortius is proud to see more and more athletes attending the camp each year. From 12 participants the first year to 28 this past year, it has started drawing players from across the country stretching as far east as Newfoundland.
In addition to staying in the Fortius Lodge, enjoying meals in the Bistro, and our close proximity to 8-Rinks, Steeves jokes that it is the Massage Therapy services at Fortius that are most appreciated by the players.
“We’re doing two ice times a day for a week, so usually by the halfway point of the camp, we’ll see people head down for a massage,” laughs Steeves. “It’s a nice option to have.”
A WORD FROM THE TEAM
— CanadianBlindHockey (@CDNBlindHockey) August 4, 2017
The growth in popularity of the camp also shows what a key role it plays in the lives of its participants.
“I used to play sighted hockey with people who could see fine,” camp attendee Zack Giesbrecht shared.
“I enjoyed it, but it got harder to see the puck and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself as someone who was different or someone who needed help. Coming to this camp four years ago was so important because we were all on an equal playing field.”
Each year, the camp also coincides with the Fortius off-season HockeySTRONG program which draws in youth to NHL players.
“It’s something you just don’t expect as a blind person, to be able to say that you train with NHL players,” says Geisbrecht. “It’s important for our development and our mentality because we take inspiration from it and it makes us feel like we’re not missing out on anything.”
At Fortius, anyone with a body that is motivated, is an athlete. We are proud to be a part of this program and look forward to welcoming the athletes back next year.
TRAIN HERE, STAY HERE
The Fortius Lodge is a three-story, 50-room hotel located at Fortius Sport & Health. With complimentary access to our 15,000 sq. ft. performance fitness centre, free parking and wifi, and only a 20-minute drive from Downtown Vancouver, Fortius offers the perfect accommodation for teams and athletes looking to train, stay, fuel and recover under one roof.
Visit our website to learn more about the Fortius Lodge or to book your future Training Camp or overnight stay.