West Dundee hockey festival celebrates players with disabilities

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A festival in West Dundee, sponsored by USA Hockey, features players with various disabilities, who don't let anything slow them down on the ice. (WLS)

A festival in West Dundee, sponsored by USA Hockey, features players with various disabilities, who don't let anything slow them down on the ice.

If David Kopp ever thinks he can't get up to speed with the challenges of life, he can always look to the ice for inspiration.

"It is definitely challenging but it is really fun because I never thought I would be able to play hockey," he said.

The 15-year-old from La Grange Park has a visual impairment. He started playing hockey two and a half years ago.

"Sometimes it is hard to see other people coming. The puck sometimes doesn't rattle as much as it should, so when it stops I am not able to find the puck," Kopp said.

Now Kopp is one of 1,800 competitors participating in the USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival.

"We have people who have been born with disabilities of all different kinds: deaf, blind, and everything you can think of. We are a melting pot of abilities," said J.J. Connor, USA Hockey Disabled Section Chairperson.

"My last tour in Iraq was pretty tough. I suffered 11 IED attacks, about six concussions in a year," said Stephen Roberts, hockey player.

For some parents, the festival means more than words can capture.

"This is something, when you have a child with a visual impairment you don't expect to have happen, and then suddenly he is out playing hockey," said Bill Kopp.

"It is nice because I know he is proud of me. I hear him yelling from up top sometimes," David said.

A festival helping players score goals on and off the ice.
Related Topics:
sportshockeyfestivaldisabilitychicago proudWest Dundee
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