New York Metro Blind Hockey offers visually impaired community chance to play
Hockey is a game of precise passing and perfect shots. That's not enough to stop some from playing the sport with no sight or very limited vision.
New York Metro Blind Hockey is the first and only visually impaired ice hockey team representing New York City and Long Island.
Players range from totally blind to low vision and create a sport that is inclusive for all.
Jacob Nemtzov, 14, is on his fifth year with the team.
"I like that I get a chance to play sports because in my past, in elementary school the gym teacher, he would exclude me from every single, every single day that we had gym," Nemtzov says. "I would just sit on the benches and just watch."
Ted Caputo founded the league in 2017.
As a father whose two sons play hockey despite visual impairments, he saw a great need to bring the sport to the metro area.
"Out tagline is 'no limits' because there really aren't," Caputo says. "We have kids as young as eight and 10 and we've had people all the way to age 60 come out. All different skill levels, people that have never played before, people who used to play at a younger age, thought they couldn't play anymore because of their eyesight."
In the league, the puck is three times bigger than a traditional one and filled with ball bearings that make noise when it zooms across the ice.
The team's head coach Ed Kerrigan says the game is all verbal.
"And they're very in tune with depth, like I have to tell them go down 25 feet, turn to your left or turn to your right," Kerrigan says. "It's very descriptive and I try to tell them, 'It's what's in here to play the game. It's heart.' And they all bring that with them."
New York Metro Blind Hockey is based in Syosset.