Hughes to play for Canada at Deaflympics in Russia, News (Ajax Pickering AAA Hockey Inc.)

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Hughes to play for Canada at Deaflympics in Russia
Submitted By Paul Burnett on Thursday, March 19, 2015
Midget Raider - Andrew Hughes can see himself walking into a dressing room, a Team Canada jersey hanging in his stall, and pulling it on, the maple leaf proudly emblazoned on his chest. Born deaf, sight is a sense he has to rely on heavily. ​Hughes will be part of the Canadian men's hockey team that will be in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia from March 25 to April 16 to compete in the 18th Winter Deaflympics.

"Oh, I'm so excited," he says from his home about the pending opportunity. "I can't wait. The experience of going to Russia, to another country to play. Representing Team Canada will feel great.

"Just putting on a Canada jersey will feel amazing."

Sick with meconium in his lungs and unable to breathe at birth, Hughes was airlifted from the hospital in Ajax to SickKids in Toronto. As a complication to some of his medical issues, hearing loss occurred. By the time he was 16 months old he was wearing hearing aids.

"Learning language was harder for him because you have to hear things to say things," says his mother,  Julie. "He's done a lot of speech therapy."

Growing up with hearing aids, being a little different than the other kids, was hard at times.

"When I was younger I was embarrassed that I had hearing aids," says Hughes. "Now, I'm so used to it."

Where he was just like every other kid was in sports. In fact, he was better than most, excelling at cross-country running, and playing AAA hockey with the Ajax-Pickering Raiders from novice right through to his final year of midget this season. Throw volleyball into the mix as well, and the 17 year old collected athlete of the year honours in Grade 8 and again in grades nine and 11 at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School.

"People would ask where he gets his endurance from and I said he runs on Duracell batteries because he wears them," jokes his mom, making light of him wearing hearing aids.

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