Katelyn Koester of Buffalo had been away from the sport in her three years at Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C., when she decided to try out for the U.S. National Women's Deaf Ice Hockey team last month in Minnesota. Her play might have been a bit rusty, but it was good enough to impress the U.S. coaches and she made the roster for the historic two-game exhibition series against Canada at Amherst Northtown Center April 22-23.
Katelyn has been dealing with challenges like that ever since she was born with bilateral profound hearing loss. All through childhood and into her teens she played softball and hockey as well as learning to play the clarinet.
The games against the Canadians will be held during the World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships for men in Amherst April 19-29. The hope is that the series between the U.S. and Canada will lead to a World Championship and Olympic event for deaf women.
"From a very early age, Katelyn was not willing to accept any barriers," her father, Jim Koester, said. "This event is very special to Katelyn not only because she gets to represent the United States and the deaf community, but also because she was fortunate enough to have played in the first ever WNY female high school varsity hockey game when she was a freshman."
In order to play for the U.S. team, Katelyn will make a small sacrifice. She will take time off from her play as an outfielder with the Gallaudet softball team. She's appeared in 22 games for the Bison this spring with four triples among her 11 hits.