San Antonio – A San Antonio boy who is a partially blind ice hockey player is encouraging visually impaired kids to look into playing blind hockey.
“It could be the greatest thing in the world,” said Hudson Pollard, who also plays for the San Antonio Junior Rampage. “First of all, you can play a sport without being cut. You can also make friends who are also blind. The game is also super fun too!”
When Hudson was born, he had medical issues his parents had to sort through.
“We found out early on that he had a genetic eye disease by way of being in the NICU with sepsis,” said Leanna Pollard, his mother. “It was blood infection he somehow contracted. Then we learned he had X-linked Juvenile Retinoschisis, which is a degenerate eye condition that affects the layers of the retina. There is not cure for it.”
Because Hudson was born with the condition, his parents said he doesn’t know anything else but how to overcome his difficulty seeing.
“He has 20/500 vision in his right eye and around 20/50 in his left eye,” Leanna Pollard said. “It is what makes Hudson, Hudson. You ultimately love your children no matter what and it was overwhelming at first, but we had great family and great support. We had the ability to help support him as he grew up.”
They said their biggest mission was making sure their son lived a normal life.
“Whatever he was inspired to do, we were going to allow him to try,” said Jody Pollard, Hudson’s father. “We have always tried to place him in areas where he wants to excel and is excited and motivated to do things.”
That is when hockey came along.
“I went to a Dallas Stars game and I admired it and I told my parents I wanted to play the sport and one day we went skating and I fell in love,” Hudson said. “It was fast-paced and amazing to watch and exciting.”
“When this sport came along, we had tried t-ball, soccer and hockey was one of his most passionate sports he was interested in,” Jody Pollard said. “The contrast in colors works for him. You got a blank sheet of white ice, which is basically like a blank canvas, and you got a black circular puck, which is the focal point of the sport to which he could see pretty well. Most of the sport is about skating. Of course as he is getting older the game is getting quicker and that presents challenges because he doesn’t have the responsive time as other kids with 20/20 eye sight.”
Hudson was then introduced to Dallas Blind Hockey.
“Blind hockey is a sport where blind people come together and play the sport,” Hudson said. “There are different rules. There is a bigger puck than normal. It makes sounds but it is like regular hockey. There are different positions for every sight there is. If you have lower good sight, then you can be forward. If you have moderate, you can be defenseman, and if you can’t see at all you’re a goalie. The goalie is 100% blindfolded.”
He said it is different than playing competitively.
“Junior Rampage is way faster but blind hockey,” Hudson said. “Blind hockey could be fast. It depends on how skilled the kids are. If they are skilled, it can be fast but if not it can be pretty slow.”
No matter how fast or slow the game is, Hudson makes it a point to be there for people who need it. He gets his love for helping others from his ups and downs with being bullied.
“People thought I looked weird or something with glasses,” Hudson said. “It made me sad but I knew to keep going.”
His parents acted quickly.
“It was absolutely heartbreaking when we found out,” Leanna Pollard said. “You never want your child to experience something like that. You never want your child to be the bully is one thing, but you never want them to be on the receiving end either. We tried to take care of it as best as we could but at the same time, we didn’t want to shelter him.”
“The school addressed it as best as they could,” said Jody Pollard. “It was great that Hudson had the guts to tell us what was going on. He’s always been very resilient. The best thing we learned from it all is that he could be transparent and open to tell us if something was bothering him. Again, the educators did a fantastic job with taking care of him. When we moved to San Antonio Christian School, they had such a warm, loving environment. That is where he wanted to go.”
They said their son is a very compassionate kid.
“I like to help kids get through rough times,” Hudson said. “Like when they lose a dog. When their great grandparent dies. I will try to help them get through it.”
“He has a huge heart for people and is very loving,” said Jody Pollard. “It is a beautiful thing specifically for a kid who is about to be a teenager and still show that emotion that he wants to give back to people and he wants to care for people. We all need that. We need more Hudsons in the world. It is important to note during this whole move from going into competitive sports, we came across some amazing people who embraced him. He wants to give back to people, just like people gave back to him.”
Hudson even inspired his younger brother, Lawson, to join hockey.
“We are rivals in a way but we are best friends and brothers of course,” Hudson laughed.
Hudson said he will continue to encourage other kids to join blind hockey. In the future, he said he wants to be a sportscaster.
“You know, anything is possible,” Hudson said.
If you would like to learn more about how you can get involved with blind hockey, you can visit usahockey.com for more information.
If you also know someone like Hudson who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.