CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a special week on the ice in the western suburb of Bensenville.
Around 60 young athletes from around the country are taking part in the 46th annual Stan Mikita Hockey School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
The school uses on-ice interpreters to help with instruction, and help these young men and women gain confidence and improve their self esteem.
“I’m not the only one,” said deaf player Ryan Hatch. “I have a lot of people that have a lot of similarities so I feel like I can do anything. With my home team, there are struggles with communication. But here, I feel like I fit in.”
“It’s just really easy to bond with people. And on the ice, everyone is similar because you have the same challenges out there so this makes it fun,” said player Maddie Gagliano, who is hard of hearing. “This is about being a family and creating new friends and just being like everyone else.”
“You may have something that other people don’t have, a hearing impairment, but that doesn’t stop you from what you want to do in life,” said AHIHA President and head coach Kevin Delaney. “You have to adjust and work a little harder than the next person, but you can do it.”
The school was free for all the athletes attending.