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El Paso hockey team is born from blind child’s curiosity & fearless coach

EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso Mooses are a blind inline hockey team that is ready to take the sport to a whole new level.

The Mooses started nine years ago because of a blind seven-year-old's curiosity, and a fearless coach willing to smash existing boundaries.

Mickayla Biddle was that 7-year-old; she was born blind. Growing up, she attended her father's hockey games, which is what made her want to follow in his footsteps.

“I can’t see anything so I was like what’s going on out there what are they doing?” Biddle said.

“Her dad asked me, 'can Mickalya come and play?' - and I said that’s no problem,” Danny Guard, coach of the El Paso Mooses said. “And he said, 'well Dan she’s blind' and I thought about it for about 5 seconds and I said, 'well yeah it’s ok we can work that, no problem' and we’ve been doing it ever since.”

The sport works due to a lot of communication.

“If a blind player can’t get it through their vision, how do they get it?” Guard asked and then answered, “They get it through sound and also the sense of touch so we set up tactile and oral components to make things known to blind players and that’s how we play.”

The coach came up with a special sonic system which places a different sounding siren in the puck, and at each goal, so players know where to go and what move to make next.

“We know how to pay attention to our hearing so I’m able to pinpoint every sound most of the time,” Carina Nuñez, an El Paso Mooses player, explained.

After nine years of perfecting the system, the Mooses now have 14 players, eight who are completely blind and one who is visually impaired.

David Fierro was born visually impaired and told ABC-7 that over the past 10 to 15 years it’s gotten increasingly worse, which is why playing hockey and being part of this team means so much to him.

“I didn’t think I would ever play sports again or be active,” Fierro said. “It makes me feel good to do something ya know, like I didn’t think I could ever do this, like I feel proud, I like my teammates, I feel part of something, something good and something that could be bigger.”

Bigger, is exactly the plan.

Beginning in the fall, the team is planning on traveling to other cities to introduce the sport to more players and help establish the game on a national level.

The eventual goal is to make the sport an event at the 2028 Paralympics.

But to the current players, they’re already scoring goals every time they roll out onto the rink.

“I feel like I want to show people that I can play a sport and that it can be adapted for blind players,” Nuñez said.

The El Paso Mooses isn’t just for those who are blind or visually impaired.

They encourage everyone to come and play no matter your level of eyesight, but once you enter the rink - everyone will play blind.

If you want to be part of the team they have all the information you can visit their website by clicking here or you can also contact Coach Dan Guard on 915-252-1678.

Article Topic Follows: Sports

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Rachel Phillips

Rachel Phillips is the weekend sports anchor and reporter.


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