Bloomsburg Student Headed to Russia for Deaflympics

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Some know him as the Alpha Tau Omega brother, some know him for his talents on the Bloomsburg Ice Hockey team, but now he’s about to be off to represent USA in the 2015 Winter Deaflympics. Bloomsburg student, Aaron McGarvey is one of the select talented players who will be representing the USA, and the Deaf community in Russia at the 18th Deaflympics March 28 to April 5 while playing the sport he loves, ice hockey.

McGarvey’s love for hockey started at the young age of four when his dad bought him his first pair of skates, the same skates that hang in his room today. Soon after he began skating McGarvey quickly took part in skills clinics and then transitioned into playing for a team. Today, he plays for the Bloomsburg University club division III ice hockey team.

Along with ice hockey, 27 countries and 344 athletes will also compete in cross-country, snowboarding and alpine skiing. This will be Russia’s third time in a row hosting the games.

Ice hockey is where McGarvey believes he found his personal motivation and his ability to focus and set personal goals. He looks at hockey as the place where being deaf doesn’t matter, and where he can be a part of a team. Now he’s landed himself an incredible opportunity to represent the USA, his family and his friends with the team whose motto is “whatever it takes.”

In order to qualify for the games, an athlete has to have a hearing loss of at least 55 dB in his or her “better ear”. During the games no assistive devices are allowed so that all athletes are playing on the same field.

Being born deaf, when he was about five or six years old he received his cochlear implants. He said, “I love to have a cochlear implant because it helps me to hear and talk better !”

A cochlear implant (CI) is an electronic device that helps replace the function of the damaged inner ear. Hearing aids are different than CI’s because they make sounds louder while a CI do the work of the cochlea to send sound signals directly to the brain.

Growing up, and to this day, his biggest role model for hockey has been his father. Along with buying him his first pair of skates, he also taught him sign language for hockey and has been constantly encouraging him every step of the way. His father has coached some of his teams throughout his hockey career and made sure to provide the communication barrier whenever sign language was needed. McGarvey knows that his two biggest role models, his father and mother, will be cheering his team on while watching the live stream from back home.

As an athlete who will be competing in the Deaflympics, McGarvey will quickly become a huge role model to many young athletes who are also deaf. McGarvey gave advice to those who will look up to him, and to those who already look up to him, “My advice is to never give up. Always strive to reach your personal goals. Focus on learning the skills necessary to play the game. Don’t let a lack of hearing be an obstacle.”

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Bloomsburg has been helping him out throughout the process with words of encouragement as he prepares for the games, mentally and physically. There’s also a donation page set up to help cover the expenses the trip will bring, http://www.gofundme.com/h59t5g.

McGarvey and his team have skated together throughout the years with an organization called American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA). All of the players on the team also play for some form of other team whether its high school, junior, or college. The team is composed of athletes from 13 different states and of athlete’s ages ranging from 17 to 33 years old. Regardless of the state they’re representing, they’ve come together to represent the USA and hope to bring home the gold once again.

An inspiration to many, Aaron McGarvey will skate hard to represent his loved ones while in Russia.

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