Hockey is for everyone. Different races, genders and religions. For able-bodied and disabled athletes. And in Dan Schramm’s and many others cases, for blind players as well. Getting ready for his second Dawg Bowl Schramm is inspired by hockey and what it has done for the blind community.
Dan grew up in Vail, Colorado and played competitive hockey until he was 14 year’s old when he was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease.
“This came as a great shock to me and was totally crippling as I began to think about my future – of not only high school, but the rest of my life. I reacted as any teenager would; I was in disbelief and slowly began to withdraw from the world around me.” said Dan.
When high school hockey tryouts came the following fall, Dan had to accept that the game progressed into something too fast and physical for his eyesight to handle at the time. Dan never lost his passion for the game and embraces every moment he gets on the ice. “I just thought my competitive career was over.”
Dan was asked to join the US Blind Hockey Team a few years ago and up until then, he literally thought he was the only person with an eyesight disability that played hockey. He was very wrong! Dan says that this experience made him realize how much he had sheltered himself and let his lack of eyesight drive his loneliness and the negativity in his life in general. Discovering blind hockey truly was a life changing moment for Dan.
“I first heard of Dawg Nation from a member of my dad’s men’s league hockey team. I got involved and my interest peaked after I saw what they did to help out a fellow blind hockey player and his organization. Dawg Nation helped him put on an amazing event in Chicago and to this it is still one of my favorite blind hockey experiences.”
Dan has overcome a lot in a short amount of time, but like many blind hockey players he finds strength in his fellow teammates.
“What inspires me is the journey and challenges everyone in the blind/visually impaired community faces daily. Their resilience and fortitude to push forward even in the toughest moments gives me strength because as little as we may show it on the outside, it still is a battle on the inside everyday. Those individuals, their friends and family who support them are the source of my inspiration.”
Last year’s Survivor Game is one of Dan’s favorite memories with Dawg Nation as he is able to witness the amount of lives that are changed by the organization.
A couple hours after this year’s Survivor Game, Schramm and the rest of the Visionaries team will be taking the ice in a blind hockey exhibition game where they will be taking on Dawg Nation’s Hockey Heals team and showing the Colorado hockey community what blind hockey is all about.
And so everyone can be prepared heading into the blind hockey action on Saturday June 24, at 5:30 pm let’s take a dive into some of the things to expect.
First, the goalies are required to be completely blind. They do however have less net to cover as the goals are a foot smaller than NHL regulated nets. The puck is also different as it is a large metal puck with steel ball bearings inside of them so players are able to hear where the puck is and track it.
Now for some rule differences! When the puck enters the blueline, the attacking team needs to make one clear pass in order to be able to shoot. And don’t be confused when a whistle blows after a pass in the offensive zone because there is a special whistle that alerts players that they are allowed to shoot after a clean pass is made. Another big one is when the puck is in the crease and still uncovered, the play is blown dead and a face-off will occur in order to protect the goalies tending the net.
To read more about the rules for blind hockey click here.
The Blind Hockey Exhibition Game at the 2023 Dawg Bowl will be Saturday, June 24 at 5:30 p.m. on the East Rink. Admission is free and fans can also watch at home using Shaw Hockey Productions on YouTube.