Excuses can be easily created for it only justifies our reasoning for not attempting to keep pushing despite opposition. Fortunately, there are many that have paved a way, making it possible for us to do the same. Despite his limitations as, Jim Kyte, a former Canadian professional hockey player managed to rewrite the books of history by becoming the first(and to date) and only legally deaf NHL player to ever play the game.
Jim used his competitive drive in achieving what many would consider impossible. He stood 6’5″ with a huge frame that enabled him to play his body in keeping anything from coming in contact with the net. When he entered the league in 1982-83, he became the first (and now only) legally deaf player to suit up in the NHL and the only player to wear hearing aids while playing. His helmet was customized to protect his aids while playing. He made it! But, Jim’s journey was not as smooth as it may seem.
He was not born with this disability, he was born just like any other child, but later discovered that he had an hereditary condition that caused his audio nerve to degenerate. Jim Kyte was only 3 years old at the time. His father always motivated him by saying, “It me be a handicap, but it’s not a disability.” These were the inspiring words that shaped his life to making history. Because of his limitations, Jim not only breathed his dream, but he also kept himself acquainted with everything that could make or break his goal of ever entering the NHL. He was well aware of the system inside out. “I knew the systems inside and out. I knew them just as well as the coaches did because I had to,” Kyte said.
Kyte always said and believed “You should be able to do anything you want to if you work hard enough at it and have the passion for it.” It is this very passion and hard work that would later help him develop the ability to lip read very well. He always played a very positional game so he couldn’t depend on players yelling his name saying ‘I’m open’. Jim used various strategies to play a smart game, like he said, “Sometimes when I went back into my own corner to retrieve a puck and didn’t have time to look over my shoulder, I would use the glass along the boards. Instead of looking through the glass to the fans, I looked at the glass to see who was behind me.”
Jim Kyte achievements never let him forget his duties and responsibilities towards the society. This is the reason he was active in charitable causes involving hearing impairment. During his career, he co-founded the Canadian Hearing Impaired Hockey Association, a hockey school for the deafened in Toronto. Shortly thereafter, started the Jim Kyte Hockey School for the Hearing Impaired and ran a summer hockey camp for hearing impaired children aged seven to 17 from 1988 to 1996. His summer camp gave deaf children a new ray of hope and an encouragement that ‘yes we can do something great despite of our disability’. Because of this opportunity, many of them were presented with the opportunity to play in the Deaflympics Team Canada hockey squad. The Deaflympics are an International Olympic Committee-sanctioned event for hearing impaired athletes in both summer and winter sports. It was all possible because Jim Kyte chose to make “the impossible,” possible.