This week is the last few days for registration for the 2021 AHIHA Deaf & Hard of Hearing Hockey Camp. This will be my son’s fourth year at this amazing camp that has helped him interact with so many kids & adults with hearing deficits that all share his love of hockey. Oh, did I mention the camp is FREE?
UPDATE: Read below for my summary and post from waaaaay back in 2019! We all had to sit out 2020 (you know, pandemic) so wanted to get the word out on our 2021 camp and didn’t have much more to talk about since we didn’t have a camp last summer!! Dead line is this week, but more important, you can support our camp by entering the ONLINE RAFFLE at any time up till camp! GREAT way to support hockey and the deaf/hard of hearing players!
Since I couldn’t say it better myself (as I did when I first talked about AHIHA in 2018), here is a bit of the history…
“Irv Tiahnybik had a dream for his son Lex, who is hard of hearing. He envisioned a hockey school where hard of hearing/deaf youngsters could learn about hockey without being hassled by hearing people who couldn’t deal with the needs of deaf and hard of hearing athletes. So, in 1973, Irv, a Chicago businessman, went to his good friend, Stan Mikita. He asked Mikita, then playing for the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks, for help launching the school. The rest, as they say, is history.”AHIHA website
Being that we are Chicagoland folks and big hockey supporters we were shocked that we had never heard of this before Owen’s hearing loss diagnosis. Thankfully since 1973 the camp has continued and thrived, and is held each summer right here in the Chicagoland suburbs.
The camp itself is a week-long camp held each June for an entire week. Their motto – Goals Beyond Hockey. This is more than just a camp for perfecting hockey skills. The most amazing part is that the camp is FREE for students. This organization has run entirely on donations with no fees are assessed to participating hockey players for the summer camp. While camp participants have to pay for accommodations, some meals, and transportation to and from the camp – the seven days of camp is free. The only thing that they ask is each attendee assist with selling three raffle tickets. (If you want to purchase one to help support our camp, check out this link on the Annual Raffle)
Who Can Attend?
Straight from the AHIHA website, these are the qualifications to attend the camp. Most importantly, the deadline to register for camp is APRIL 15th:
- Male or female hockey players with 40db or greater hearing loss.
- First time hockey school attendees are required to provide a current audiogram in support of their hearing loss.
- Age: youth beginner through college level athletes.
- Players under the age of 21 must be accompanied to the hockey school by a parent. In the event a parent cannot be present, additional documentation will be required before a player is approved to participate in the hockey school.
- Player must be a current member of USA Hockey.
- Player must be currently participating in an organized hockey program (with the exception of beginners).
- Returning Players – must be in good standing with AHIHA to attend hockey school.
What To Expect
This year, the camp starts on June 12th. The Saturday of camp players start to arrive from across the United States – Alaska, Massachutes, Minnesota, Arizona just to name a few! They will settle in at the hotel for this year, the Hyatt Place Chicago/Itasca. Having everyone at the same hotel allows for different activities during the week, as well as coordinated transportation to and from the rink each day. There is also
Sunday morning starts the practices. Goalies are always the first on deck, usually starting around 8 am. Then the four other groups – Freshman, JV, Girls, and Varsity – have practices throughout the morning. Again this year, we are skating at The Edge Ice Rink in Bensenville. Later that evening there is a BBQ planned (either at the hotel or rink) and parent meeting (at least there was last year).
Monday – Friday is where the real hockey camp feel begins. Each morning is the same – goalie practice followed by the other four groups. While the bus brings players back and forth to the rink – the gear stays there. That’s right, the gear stays in one place all week (except on night, they do have us bring back to the hotel to air/dry out everything a bit more). The break down for the afternoon/evenings the rest of the week generally follow this formula:
- Monday – Evening Games
- Tuesday – Evening Games plus Family Skate Night
- Wednesday – Blackhawks Game Truck in the afternoon followed by the AHIHA Banquet in the evening
- Thursday – Afternoon children’s raffle, Evening sports raffle
- Friday – Evening games plus Parent Party (theme TBD)
Saturday there are no practices, just the final set of games in the morning followed by the Awards/Closing Reception early afternoon.
This is really the heart of this organization, and probably why it has been so successful for 48 years (and counting!). This VIDEO released this summer really captures AHIHA in four minutes. If you have a bit more time, here is a 15 minutes recap of Summer 2018 Camp. For the 45th Anniversary year, we even had some news coverage on WGN. My little guy is the one waving to the camera as he sits on the ice. All of this highlights the friendships formed by both players and parents. We look forward to this group, this energy, each year.
We are already counting down (2 months!) until we begin our week meeting new parents and players and renewing long-distance friendships. Please – spread the word on AHIHA. If you know of anyone who has a hearing deficit and loves hockey, or more importantly thinks they cannot play hockey because of their hearing loss – tell them about AHIHA. The deadline for hockey camp registration is April 1st! Spread the word!