The game of hockey is a symphony of sounds, but for some hockey players who are deaf or hard of hearing, that symphony is silent.
This week, hockey players who are hearing impaired have gathered at the Stan Mikita Hockey School for the Hearing Impaired for hands-on training to help them improve their hockey skills.
The group of 65 players has gathered in Bensenville for the annual camp, and with sign-language interpreters helping communicate and with strobe lights flashing when the whistle blows, this is a week where nobody feels like an outsider.
“It’s just the coolest thing,” camper Andres Lindgren said. “To be a part of this family (where) you come and everyone just loves everyone, it’s the coolest thing.”
This is the 46th year of the week-long camp, and ever since its inception, it’s had a connection to the Blackhawks. The camp was co-founded by Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita, and his memory still lives on after his passing last August.
“When he came here, he was charismatic and worked with the kids, so this is a chance to keep his legacy going,” President Kevin Delaney said.
Delaney started out as a camper himself, and is now in his third year of spearheading the annual camp.
“It’s just a great thing to be a part of,” he said. “I love it and attribute a lot of what I am today to this camp, and I just want to pass it on to the kids coming through the organization now.”
Thousands of players have participated in the camp over its lengthy history, and with the memories that they’ve made, thousands more will be encouraged to do the same.
“I already said to my dad, ‘I want to go next year, two years, three years, four years from now,’” camper Erin Munro said. “I want to come here forever.”