How It All Started

Irv Tiahnybik had a dream for his son Lex, who is hard of hearing. He envisioned a hockey school where hard of hearing/deaf youngsters could learn about hockey without being hassled by hearing people who couldn't deal with the needs of deaf and hard of hearing athletes.

So, in 1973, Irv, a Chicago businessman, went to his good friend, Stan Mikita (pictured below). He asked Mikita, then playing for the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks, for help launching the school. The rest, as they say, is history.

These determined and dedicated men formed their own team and began to organize the effort in earnest. They found others…volunteers like themselves...who were willing to give their time and talent to organize a first-ever hard of hearing hockey clinic. They followed a gut feeling that what they were doing was right – and sorely needed.

Irv Tiahnybik & Stan Makita

Stan and Irv quickly discovered that they were right on target. The first Stan Mikita Hockey School for the Hearing Impaired was a tremendous success. Thirty-one deaf and hard of hearing boys from several states ventured to Chicago for a week’s worth of instruction and fun.

Over the years, the hockey school has continued to attract new players with many of the early team members returning to the ice as well. The first benefit game between Mikita’s All Stars and the AHIHA Varsity Squad was held in 1975, the second year of the school, and has become a crowd pleaser every year since. In fact, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita skated together again at the 1983 benefit game.

The U.S. Deaflympic Hockey Team, comprised mainly of members of the Hockey School’s Varsity squad, has won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the last five Winter Deaflympic games. Players who have attended AHIHA have gone on to play on high school, prep school, junior leagues, D1 and D3 college teams. Many members of the Hockey School’s Varsity squad, have made the U.S. Deaf Ice Hockey Team and have participated in the Deaflympics.

AHIHA is now a self-perpetuating organization with many of the original hockey school students, as well as other professionals like Jeff Sauer, David Lassonde, Gene Ubriaco and Tony Granato, assuming AHIHA administrative and coaching positions. As a result, they are guiding and teaching the school’s second generation of students.

AHIHA is totally supported by donations and no fees are assessed to participating hockey players for our summer camp. Participants are responsible for accommodations, meals and transportation to and from the camp.

Kevin Delaney

A Note From The President

As a former youth player/participant in the annual AHIHA Stan Mikita Hockey School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I have experienced what a life changing experience AHIHA can be for a young person. It is a special honor and a privilege to now serve as the president of this organization which holds a special place in my heart.

AHIHA has impacted me both personally and professionally. I have shared experiences both on and off the ice and created bonds that have lasted a lifetime. I gained confidence and a renewed sense of importance which not only improved my play on the ice, but also bolstered my self-esteem in everyday life situations.

I am committed to upholding and raising the values set forth from the creation of this organization by one of the greatest players in NHL history, Hall of Fame and former Chicago Blackhawks player Stan Mikita and co-founder, local businessman, Irv Tiahnybik. Their unwavering commitment and dedication to creating an organization that serves the deaf and hard of hearing athletes through the game of hockey has inspired countless players.

Our mission to achieve goals beyond hockey has propelled thousands of athletes who have gone on to achieve great success in their careers and personal lives. With each new generation, we look forward to enriching and touching their lives with the same principles and commitment that launched this great association more than 45 years ago.

It is a goal that we can all achieve together.

Kevin Delaney