Boston Bruins play "goal ball" at Perkins School in Watertown
Wicked Local Watertown, February 11, 2011
By Laura Paine
WATERTOWN — Boston Bruins players Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder got a taste of what it’s like to rely on the rest of their senses when they “lost” their vision playing “goal ball” at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown.
On Feb. 7, the Bruins forwards teamed up against Perkins students to play goal ball, a team sport geared toward blind athletes in which players roll a bell-embedded ball into the opposing teams goal. Players use the sound of the bell to determine where the ball is and use their bodies, often by lying on their sides on the floor, to prevent the ball from passing them.
Wheeler and Ryder each wore colored goggles that prevented them from seeing, which proved to be a more difficult task than either of them expected. At one point when Ryder went to retrieve the ball after it rolled passed him, he peeked out from behind the goggles to find it. Wheeler said it was a challenge “for sure.”
“You find out how much you take your vision for granted when it is taken away from you,” he told the Watertown TAB & Press. “Once you put those goggles on it was different world. You don’t think about your hearing, maybe even touch and those different things as much as maybe you should. We rely on our vision so much that when it’s taken from you it’s a shock to your system for sure.”
Wheeler and Ryder played the game as a part of the National Hockey League’s “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative.
Perkins Lower School Physical Education teacher Tracey Polimeno said it was very exciting to have Boston Bruins players at Perkins.
“It was even more important that Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler took the time to learn how to play goal ball, a game that really belongs to the students,” Polimeno. “What good sports. The Bruins made it clear that our students truly matter to them.”
Wheeler said it was a great opportunity for him and Ryder to do something different.
“I don’t know if Mike has done anything like this either,” Ryder said. “It was a unique opportunity and to put yourself in these kids shoes for 10 minutes to see what they go through, it kind of gives you a different perspective and you appreciate what you have a lot more.”
The players answered student’s questions about everything from whether they take the elevator to their games or if they take the stairs to how many players make up a hockey team—Ryder and Blake said they take the stairs and, they think that including the goalie, there are 23 players on the team.
Students received goodie bags, autographs and hockey sticks from the players and 12 representatives from the Perkins School for the Blind will attend the Bruins/Sharks game on Feb. 5 at 1 p.m. as the special guests of Patrice Bergeron through his Patrice’s Pals program.
Copyright 2011 Watertown TAB & Press. Some rights reserved