Hamline graduate will lead U.S. deaf women’s hockey team this weekend

Jessica Goldberg, a Hamline senior and Henry Sibley graduate, will wear a captain’s ‘C’ for Team USA this weekend during a two-game series against Canada, a first for deaf women’s hockey players.

Goldberg, a four-year hockey player for the Pipers, was named a team captain for the first USA Women’s National Deaf Ice Hockey, which will play the Canadians Saturday and Sunday in Amherst, NY.

“I’m just super excited,” Goldberg said this week. “The boys always had a team, and I always dreamed of a national deaf team for women. And now we have one.”

Undated courtesy photo, circa April 2017, of Jessica Goldberg, a senior on the Hamline University women’s hockey team. Goldberg, who attended Henry Sibley High School, played four seasons of hockey for Hamline and also was on the varsity lacrosse team for a season. (Courtesy of Hamline University)

Under the guidelines of the USA Deaf Sports Federation and American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association, players cannot wear hearing aids or cochlear implants during games.

The Pioneer Press talked with Goldberg, Sibley High’s all-time points leader, about being deaf as well as being a member of the USA team.

You were born deaf. How old were you when you were diagnosed as being deaf?

I didn’t find out I was hard of hearing until I was 6 years old. I went six years without hearing aids. It changed everything. The first sound was the Velcro on my shoes and the zipper on my jacket. Then I stepped outside and heard birds. I still hear new sounds.

How did you get by until you were 6 without people around you realizing you were deaf?

I read lips. I passed all my hearing tests by reading lips and I read body language. A lot of times people don’t realize when they ask a question, they’re already nodding their head. As a kid I picked up on it right away and passed the hearing tests.

So what changed when you were 6?

When I was 6, I went to see my cousin, who is an audiologist. My family knew something was up because I kept saying “What?” all the time. My cousin diagnosed me. I have 50 percent loss in both ears. I wear two hearing aids.

The reason for not being allowed to wear hearing aids or cochlear implants during games with the USA team is so no one has an advantage. Are there women on the USA team who cannot be helped by hearing aids or implants?

Yes. There are a few girls who cannot hear anything. They don’t wear cochlear implants, hearing aids or anything.

Have you ever considered being deaf an impairment that kept you from succeeding at anything?

No. When I was growing up, my grandmother told me to never use your hearing as a crutch. I learned from that. I’m never going to let my hearing stop me from what I want to do in live.

What do you want to do in life?

That’s a good question. I’m not sure yet. Right now, I’m focusing on graduating in May. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do. I have some ideas.

What ideas?

I’m think real estate or mortgage….

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