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Blues Game Differs for Visually-Impaired

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
Big hits. Slick passing. Highlight-reel goals.

For most of us, these are a few of the reasons we buy our tickets and attend NHL hockey games. But imagine, if only for just one second, that you couldn’t see the hits, the fancy goals or the sweet passes.

For the Missouri School for the Blind students who attended the Feb. 26 game vs. Dallas, that’s exactly the case.

These kids don’t “see” the game. They feel it.

Students at the Missouri School for the Blind met with Louie before the Feb. 26 game vs. Dallas.
“With the one sense that they miss, it makes the other senses sharper,” said Ed Calvin, an advisor at the school. “They hear things that we don’t hear.”

Like the sound of the blades. The roar of the crowd. The blare of the foghorn. The rattle of the boards.

For them, the game is an entirely different experience.

The Blues welcomed 20 students to the game, giving them tickets close to the action so they could truly sense the game from up close. The result?

About 20 life-long hockey fans.

Especially 11-year-old Michael Babusaw, who is partially blind. Michael can’t make out details, but sees moving shapes and colors.

“It’s different (for me) because I just usually look at the colors,” he said. “Whenever I see what’s happening on the colored shirts, I have a feeling of that stuff.

“I love how they win and I like it whenever they do the power plays and score.”

The students were given a meet and greet session with Louie in addition to learning how the ice surface is made and maintained. They also were allowed the opportunity to sit on the zamboni and watch warm-ups from the penalty box.

During the pregame skate, Jamal Mayers opened the door to the penalty box and handed Babusaw a puck.

For the Blues Community Relations department, stories like these happen nearly every day.

“The best part about my job is being able to give the kids we work with a chance to experience Blues hockey,” said Ashley Green, who together with Community Relations Director Renah Jones, organized the School for the Blind trip to the game.

“Working here kind of gives you the best of both worlds; we get the excitement of working for a professional sports team and we manage programs that are designed to enrich the lives of others. It’s pretty amazing.”

Turns out, there’s a lot more to hockey than meets the eye.

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