EVANSTON, Ill. — Miles Gates of Erie, Pa., was recently named as alternate captain of the 23-player roster of elite deaf hockey players representing the United States in the 19th Winter Deaflympics to be held Dec. 12–21, in Valtellina Valchiavenna, Italy.
The competition, organized since 1924 by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf, is sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, IOC.
Teams from Canada, Finland, Kazakhstan, Russia and the U.S. will compete at the 2019 games.
Gates previously competed internationally as a member of U.S. teams that won a bronze medal at the 2015 Deaflympics held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, and a gold medal at the 2017 World Championships in Amherst, N.Y.. This year’s team members range in age from 16 to 34 and hail from 14 states.
“We’re excited about our team for the Winter Deaflympics. Their passion for the game of hockey and pride in representing the United States will make them a force at the rink,” said General Manager Richard Dumas. “The team will be competing in Italy with one goal, winning a gold medal.”
Gates, as a veteran defenseman, will be competing in his fourth international competition. Physical play and an acute knowledge of the game make him a valuable member of this team. He will be relied on to use his experience to lead this team to another Deaflympic medal.
Gates is employed as an interpreter in the Erie School District as he pursues a degree in special education. In addition, he coaches Mercyhurst men’s hockey ACHA D1 and D2 teams. When he’s not on the ice, you’ll find him at the gym, hunting or participating in many other outdoor activities.
“Miles is well respected by his peers and the coaching staff,” said Joe Gotfryd, head coach for Team USA. “He leads by example both on and off the ice. We expect him to play a big role in mentoring a relatively young defense, many competing in their first international event.”
The team operates under the guidelines of USA Hockey and the USA Deaf Sports Federation. To qualify, athletes must have a hearing loss of at least 55 dB in their “better ear.” Hearing aids, cochlear implants and the like are not allowed during competition to ensure that all athletes play on the same level.
AHIHA funds the team through private donations as well as support from the USA Hockey Foundation.