This month we highlight the great work from one of the latest Blind Hockey players Conrad Eder and the incredible work he’s doing to grow the game in Ottawa as he prepares for his first ever Canadian National Blind Hockey Tournament!  Here is his story from his own words:

I got diagnosed with RP about 6 or 7 years ago now, and that diagnosis really came out of the blue. I was not aware that I was experiencing any visual problems, and it was just run of the mill optometrist appointment to have my eyes checked. Within a few months I had confirmation of a diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa which up until that I had never heard about it, I had no idea what it was. About a year after that, I lost my license. So that was a pretty crazy sort of 12 to 16 months.

At that point in time, I was very fortunate that through an online search I was connected with Fighting Blindness Canada and their Young Leaders program. That was probably one of the biggest moments in my journey to start finding community and resources that could help me learn more about my disease and connect with other people with similar conditions.

Fast forward now about 5 or 6 years around May or June of last year, I was just scrolling through YouTube, and I just happened to come across a clip of Blind Hockey. It was one of the game recordings from the international competition between Canada and the USA. I’d never heard of Blind Hockey before, and I never played or even really watched any Para sport before in my life.

Going into camp in 2023 as a first ever Blind Hockey experience for me was pretty nerve wracking! I hadn’t been in a hockey locker room for years, but I think that actually made summer camp probably the best introduction I could have asked for because it gave me a chance to try the sport of Blind Hockey before being thrown straight into a game.

My first tournament was this past December 2023, the Eastern Regional Tournament hosted in my hometown of Ottawa. I ended up getting a few goals and, I mean I’m pretty sure I just blacked out. I was nervous with all of my family and friends in the building.

On my second shift, I just get a beautiful pass right in the slot and I put it in and I was beaming for the rest of the night hearing my name being announced. That was probably one of the coolest things I’ve done in my entire life!

Now I feel really optimistic for my first ever Canadian National Blind Hockey Tournament especially during a huge year like the 10th anniversary.

I’ve been heading from Ottawa to Toronto every 2 or 3 weeks to play with the Ice Owls to get a bit more exposure with the adult players, and I’ve been lucky enough to play and coach here in Ottawa every week with the youth program which has been incredible for my growth.

Now, Canadian Blind Hockey has recently announced the first ever Adult Blind Hockey program in Ottawa and I’m thrilled to be part of it. This is also significant for the city’s youth players; the adult program gives them something to strive for.

When you’re part of a smaller community of individuals as we are of those who are blind or partially sighted, sometimes it can feel a little bit isolating. And sometimes it can be hard to reach those people who maybe are not as well connected through no fault of their own.

It’s about building that sense of community and togetherness and creating motivation and driving one another to be better.

Here’s a clip of Conrad speaking to CBC’s Ottawa Morning about the historic moment when he took to the ice at the Canadian Tire Centre during the first Canadian Blind Hockey game to be played at an NHL arena.