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Rams goalie keeps her eyes on the puck

By Antoinette Mercurio

Dana Carson

Mild-to-moderate hearing loss doesn’t stop Dana Carson from performing her best as the Ryerson Rams women’s hockey goalie. Photo credit: Stephen Kassim.

Dana Carson is really focused when it comes to hockey.

The second-year geographic analysis student plays goal for the Ryerson Rams women’s hockey team and has mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Diagnosed when she was three years old, Carson wears a hearing aid in each ear except when playing hockey.

“I can’t get water on them because they’ll stop working and if it gets too close [pressed by the helmet], it starts to squeal,” Carson said. “I might miss information and not be aware of it. If a sentence doesn’t make sense to me, I know I’ve missed something in the conversation.”

It makes no difference on the ice though. Carson doesn’t take her eyes off the puck when the play is in motion and keeps a look out for the referee when necessary. A hockey player since she was four, Carson doesn’t know how to play any other way. Having a hearing deficiency early-on established her mind-set to get in a zone and stay focused on the game.

“I’ve always lived with it so that’s how I know how to play,” she said.

Head coach Lisa Haley doesn't see any hinderance in Carson's skill development.

"Her impairment helps with her role on the team because she is always still tracking and playing the puck/shots even after the whistle blows and that is a good thing," Haley said. "Also, Dana is a fierce competitor who plays a fearless style, and I think that comes from her knowing she has to work just a little harder than the average person. She embraces that in the best possible way and has been a great leader for us in terms of her committment and work ethic."

The team practices almost every day. Carson learns new plays through team drills, which are drawn out. She is one of three goalies on the squad; they take turns as starting goalie and most often play for the entire game. During a match a couple of weeks ago, Carson suffered a concussion when an opposing player charged the net trying to score. Carson ended up in the back of the net and only returned to play this past weekend.

Originally from London, Ont., Carson is the youngest in her family with three older brothers. Bred for hockey from the beginning, Carson jokingly reveals that her brothers used her as target practice by putting her in net when they were children until she eventually became a good player and could go skate-to-skate with them.

Carson’s hearing loss doesn’t interfere with her studies either. She sits near the front during lectures and compares her notes with note takers to ensure nothing is missed.