San Marcos resident thrives on US Blind Hockey Team

SAN MARCOS — The sport of ice hockey has opened new doorways, reports and friendships for a legally-blind San Marcos resident.

Blake Steinecke, a 23-year-old tech skilled and member of the U.S. Blind Hockey Team, was once stunned to be told his imaginative and prescient was once getting worse all over his junior yr at San Marcos High School.

At 16, Steinecke loved taking part in baseball, hockey and lacrosse, all whilst keeping up a grade-point reasonable more than 4.0. However, simply weeks after his imaginative and prescient issues started, Steinecke was once recognized with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), an extraordinary mitochondrial genetic illness inflicting the optic nerve to atrophy, resulting in blindness.

Blake Steinecke of San Marcos, who is legally blind, gets ready for hockey practice on Oct. 12 at Icetown Carlsbad. Photo by Steve Puterski
Blake Steinecke of San Marcos will get in a position for hockey apply on Oct. 12 at Icetown Carlsbad. Photo by way of Steve Puterski

“I got the diagnosis and knew I would lose central vision in both eyes,” Steinecke advised The Coast News. “It’s just so shocking to expect something like that. I was facing this challenge in the future, and I had this initial shock.”

Once talented with 20/15 imaginative and prescient (a person is in a position to see one thing from 15 ft away that others with 20/20 imaginative and prescient can see from 20 ft away), Steinecke now has 20/800 imaginative and prescient. (For reference, a person is legally blind if their central imaginative and prescient is 20/200, a number of magnitudes more potent than 20/800 imaginative and prescient.)

Despite a life-changing prognosis that led to him to query the entirety from long term employment to courting, Steinecke cast a a success profession as a student-athlete. Leaning on his religion, Steinecke earned his highschool degree — a few of the best scholars in his elegance — and graduated magna cum laude from Cal State University San Marcos.

Today, he works for the tech start-up Clusive, which emphasizes laptop and tech accessibility for the visually impaired. Steinecke additionally has a YouTube channel to empower the blind neighborhood and is an beginner photographer.

San Marcos resident Blake Steinecke practices hockey drills on Oct. 12 at Icetown Carlsbad. Photo by Steve Puterski
San Marcos resident Blake Steinecke practices hockey drills on Oct. 12 at Icetown Carlsbad. Photo by way of Steve Puterski

“My dreams are different, the way I interact with this world (is different) and there’s this new normal,” Steinecke mentioned. “I’m in this for life, so accepting all that took me years. I found a lot of success and it was incredibly challenging. What helped a lot was having people who believed in me.”

And courting? Steinecke met Amanda Bauer, whose maiden identify is equal to the hockey apparatus corporate, and the couple was once married ultimate yr.

Dreams on ice

While effectively navigating his instructional {and professional} careers, Steinecke by no means gave up on taking part in sports activities.

As a member of the U.S. Blind Hockey staff (a spouse of america Hockey program), Steinecke trains two times weekly at Icetown Carlsbad, deftly navigating ice-skating drills and maneuvers, whipping photographs into the online and bettering his total sport.

Steinecke, who performs ahead, broke the ice on his sports activities profession after taking part in a blind hockey match in San Jose, which landed him a possibility to play with the U.S. nationwide staff.

San Marcos resident Blake Steinecke gives a demonstration during a San Diego Gulls game last year. Courtesy photo
San Marcos resident Blake Steinecke offers an indication all over a San Diego Gulls sport ultimate yr. Courtesy picture

Blind hockey has some vital variations from conventional hockey. The puck, which is product of steel and stuffed with ball bearings so avid gamers can find the puck, is considerably larger than the game’s conventional vulcanized rubber disc.

Players should additionally go the puck at least one time, signaled by way of an digital whistle, earlier than a scoring alternative. Goalies should be utterly blind, whilst defensemen and forwards is also legally blind. Steinecke, who’s legally blind with out a central imaginative and prescient and restricted peripheral imaginative and prescient, can simplest see a close-by puck because of the distinction between the black disc on white-colored ice.

Many blind hockey avid gamers throughout North America, together with Steinecke, hope the game will ultimately make it to the Paralympic Games.

Bill Steinecke, who has been his son’s trainer for the previous a number of years, mentioned blind hockey is greater than a sport. The bond between the avid gamers has created a family-type environment.

“It’s such a tight community and just being around them is infectious,” Bill Steinecke mentioned. “For me, it was, I can’t change, so what’s next? It was a change in how I communicated with him. I’m just a big fan. Where I’ve seen him play, it’s amazing. These are things (Blake) never would’ve done if this had not happened.”

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