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CNIB Lake Joe’s Blind Hockey Team poses for a group photo on the rink after practice with Luca and Eugene

CNIB Lake Joe’s New Blind Hockey Program featuring Luca DeMontis

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This summer, CNIB Lake Joe was extremely fortunate to have Luca DeMontis, Program Director at Canadian Blind Hockey and General Manager of the Canadian National Blind Hockey Team, coach the first-ever Blind Hockey Camp during Camp Abilities Week. 

An active volunteer, Luca has a long history with blind hockey – his brother Mark founded Courage Canada, which evolved into Canadian Blind Hockey. 

Luca DeMontis, Program Director at Canadian Blind Hockey and coach of Blind Hockey Camp at CNIB Lake Joe.
Luca DeMontis

“I’m very fortunate to have been here from the beginning when this organization was just a thought…an idea of getting young children who are blind and partially sighted on the ice,” says Luca. 

Canadian Blind Hockey provides blind hockey programming, including introductory try-it sessions, development camps, regional and national competitions, and by supporting the Canadian Blind Hockey Teams. CNIB is a National Program Partner with Canadian Blind Hockey.

This was the first year we held a summer hockey program at CNIB Lake Joe for our Camp Abilities participants.

“When they [the participants] got to the rink, they were super excited to have eight hours of on-ice instruction.” 

While many participants had been in an arena before, they had never been the player on the ice. 

“So, for them to finally get out there on the ice, all by themselves in a safe and inclusive space, it was remarkable. But more importantly, this is needed in community and in sport,” says Luca.

Sophia Idone, 13, participated in the blind hockey program. She says she first became interested in playing the sport after attending a blind hockey tournament in Toronto with her family.  
“I hadn’t been on the ice for a long time, so the program was a lot of fun.  We did drills, scrimmaging, and shootouts,” says Sophia. “My favourite part was being away from my family for the first time. I got to spend time with my friends, meet a lot of new people and of course, I got to play hockey!”

Eight youths participated in the blind hockey program. Next year, Luca hopes that number will double. 

A puck drop. Hockey players, Brayden, Mathew and Eli during practice on the rink.
Brayden, Mathew and Eli during practice on the rink.

“We hope that the youth that attended the program are going to go back to their communities and be spokespersons. They are our ambassadors,” says Luca.
His advice for those who might be on the fence about playing ice hockey is simple: “There are so many things in life to be uncertain about, whether you have sight loss or not. The only way you're going to overcome that fear is just to try it.” 

Although he was there as a hockey coach, Luca says the most important lessons he had for the players were the lessons he gave off the ice.

“We are not here to create superstar blind hockey players. We’re trying to create role models in communities,” says Luca.

Curious about how blind hockey is played? Read about the rules here