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Bells & Whistles: Disabled Festival is a Highlight for Gui Bradshaw

By USA Hockey, 04/09/22, 1:30PM MDT

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Bradshaw is a USA Hockey official and special education teacher

Gui Bradshaw has been officiating hockey games for 17 years and has been a special education teacher for 20 years.

“Don’t ask me how I started officiating,” Bradshaw chuckled. “I was playing men’s league and I thought the officials were bad and they said ‘if you think you can do better come on out’ so I did and 17 years later I’m still officiating.”

Bradshaw started out officiating adult league, but after all these years he’s truly done it all. From youth and travel to juniors and college, Bradshaw has been involved with the game at every level.

“I have actually fallen in love with officiating. That’s what keeps me doing it.”

After connecting with USA Hockey’s Disabled Section Referee-In-Chief Brad Roethlisberger, Bradshaw attended his first Disabled Hockey Festival in Chicago of 2018. It was there that he was introduced to five of USA Hockey’s disabled hockey disciplines, including blind, deaf/hard of hearing, special, standing amputee and warrior.

“I just knew that, if at all possible, I was going to do this every chance that I got.” Bradshaw said.

Now in 2022, Bradshaw is officiating at his third Disabled Hockey Festival. As a Level 4 official and coach under USA Hockey, Bradshaw says it’s nice to return to the Festival and see some familiar faces from pre-COVID times.

“They don’t necessarily remember me, but I’ve seen a lot of familiar faces,” Bradshaw said. “With the gap that we had for the two years we didn’t have it for COVID, some of these young people have grown up and it’s fun remembering them from when I first I saw them in Chicago and then saw them in Tampa. I don’t always know names, but it’s nice to see how they’ve progressed and that they're still involved with the game and still having a good time.”

When Bradshaw isn’t at the rink, he works as a high school special education teacher where he grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and has been involved as a special education teacher for two decades. While his job as an educator and an his job as an official are generally separate, Bradshaw says he often takes a similar approach both on and off the ice.

“This is about these individuals and their experience with it. I think just carrying from the classroom that understanding of how this is a positive experience for them and how it’s going to impact them in their lives is really important.”

Additionally, Bradshaw discussed the importance of continued awareness for disabled hockey, especially for disciplines like blind hockey, which he noted is one of his favorite disciplines to officiate. Blind hockey requires adapted blind hockey pucks, which cost around $50 each and can add a lot more accrued costs to the sport.

“That’s the sort of stuff that’s going to have a huge impact,” said Bradshaw.

Over the course of the season, Bradshaw works everything from high school, college, youth, travel, junior hockey games in addition to his full-time job as a teacher.  He said that the Disabled Hockey Festival is always an event he looks forward to towards the end of a busy season.

“Sometimes through the grind of a season, you start to lose some of that passion game by game, but then you get to an event like this and everybody here is just about the participation and having fun. You see them go out there and compete and there is a definitely the competitive element, but at the end of the day it’s about having fun.

“That doesn’t get lost throughout this event. Win or lose, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen two teams take pictures after the game and you just don’t see that in regular season youth hockey. So that is part of what makes this special.”

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