Blind hockey summer programs welcome new participants

10:00 AM EST
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Amanda McGee
10:00 AM EST
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The importance of Blind hockey summer programs

Canadian Blind Hockey Manager and General Manager of the Canadian National Blind Hockey Team Luca DeMontis is a believer in equitable sport opportunity.

Through numerous blind hockey programs being held across Canada this summer, DeMontis is hopeful to expand knowledge of blind hockey, a growing parasport played on ice by players with 10 percent vision or less.

The first Try Blind Hockey Program of the summer commenced on May 23 in Red Deer, Alberta. Several more have taken place in regions across Canada, with the most recent event held in Regina, Saskatchewan, on August 4.

“There are opportunities for participants who are blind and partially sighted from across this country to get on the ice and learn more about the game and potentially fall in love with it,” DeMontis told Hockey of Tomorrow. The Try Blind Hockey Overtime Programs have been operating since 2011 and run throughout the offseason.

In these programs, attendees are introduced to the sport and learn how to play. The 2022-23 blind hockey season ended after the annual National Blind Hockey Tournament, held March 24 to 26 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto.

With over 200 participants at this year’s National Tournament, there were six different divisions that players competed in, including Children, Youth, Low Vision & Development, Open, Women’s, and Canada vs USA.

“Our biggest media-marketed tournament, being our National Tournament, brought new participants out of the woodwork,” DeMontis added. “With the season ending in late March, it leaves limited opportunity to play during the summer.”

“One thing we've noticed over the last couple of years, especially coming out of the pandemic, is that a lot of participants want to continue playing well into June,” said DeMontis. “It's difficult to get ready for the upcoming season because it doesn't start until September or October. So as an organization, we thought, what can we do to kind of shorten that gap in the offseason?”

Through partnering with Sport Canada, funds have been allocated directly to blind hockey teams and community groups to set up introductory programs. Individuals interested in trying out blind hockey now have several opportunities throughout the offseason.

“Costs are a huge barrier, so it's incredible to have that support and help,” said DeMontis. “Now we're able to provide different areas with opportunities for youth and adults to try the sport.”
“The main goal of these Try Blind Hockey Overtime Programs is to introduce the sport to new participants of all ages. If an adult wants to try the sport for the very first time, we're able to introduce them at our youth program. We encourage adults to come try the sport for a couple of sessions, at our youth programs, to get comfortable and get familiar.”

In past years, DeMontis would often travel to all of the different regions to help set up the programs.

With the help from blind hockey community leaders who now operate the programs, DeMontis is able to provide the necessary resources and support without having to travel as frequently.

“For us as an organization, it's remarkable to have these champions that are in these communities instilling our mission and providing the support for participants to attend these programs,” said DeMontis.

It’s common for program leaders to have participated in programs in the past. Each event will follow a similar structure with the ice typically divided into half with beginner attendees on one side and intermediate players on the other to play scrimmage or participate in drills.

Having familiarity with the structure of these programs enables things to run smoothly. “For us to have these players in our community as ambassadors and role models to the children and youth from across this country, it's something that we truly value at Canadian Blind Hockey,” said DeMontis.

Canadian Blind Hockey maintains a close relationship with itinerant teachers, who play an incredible role in making youth aware of upcoming sport opportunities.

“By having these relationships with these teachers, it really helps us communicate with these students, with their parents, about the opportunity to participate in blind hockey,” DeMontis said.

DeMontis has witnessed firsthand how youth have created lasting friendships through attending different programs and events.

“It's super cool to see the communities growing, but more importantly for a child to feel like a part of a team,” said DeMontis. “For us, that means we're doing our job.”

Canadian Blind Hockey also annually hosts a youth multi-sport summer camp and a development camp for participants to further develop their skills. This year, the youth camp was at the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind in Brantford, Ontario from August 16th to 20th.

Youths had the opportunity to participate in various different sports including blind hockey, blind soccer, judo, goalball, beep baseball, and track and field among others.

In addition, an adult summer development training camp also took place during the same time from August 16 to 20 in Mississauga, Ontario.

“Learn the rules, the rules are what make the sport so accessible,” DeMontis said. “It makes this sport played and loved by children, youth and adults from across this country who are blind and partially sighted.”

For those interested in becoming involved in the blind hockey community, email Luca DeMontis at for more information.

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