Bill Holtzer takes gold in Winter Deaflympics


The 2019 Winter Deaflympics men's hockey gold medal team poses for a photo after their victory over Canada.

Walsh Jesuit junior Bill Holtzer competed on the US Men’s National Deaf Ice Hockey Team in Valtellina Valchiavenna, Italy, from December 7-22. They played in the 19th Winter Deaflympics, a worldwide competition for athletes ages 16 and older who have lost the ability to hear without artificial aids.

During the games the players are not allowed to use their hearing aids in order guarantee fairness for everyone. “It felt incredibly odd not being able to hear anything during the game and it forced everyone to develop really good team chemistry,” said Bill.

Bill Holtzer, number 8, plays for team USA in the 2019 Deaflympics in Italy.

As a forward, Bill’s role is to score during a game. In Italy, his goal was to score at least once, and that happened during the game against Kazakhstan. “It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, because one of my goals for this trip was to score a goal in the Deaflympics,” Bill said.

Bill achieved this goal due to all the time he spent training for the Deaflympics. In Italy alone, the team spent upwards of four hours a day practicing during their first week.

Fellow teammates on the Walsh Jesuit hockey team have noticed Bill’s work ethic. Junior Charlie Huscroft said, “You can really tell how hard Bill works in order to perform as well as he does in hockey, and all the effort he puts in during practice translates into our games.”

Bill, right, poses with some teammates as they savor the taste of victory.

At the age of seven, Bill began playing hockey with the Akron Canton Penguins. This team taught him the basics of hockey, which he perfected in order to be ready to try out for the US Men’s National Deaf Ice Hockey Team in Buffalo, New York, last April. “I was incredibly nervous to try out for the team, since I had to play at the best of my ability in order to stand out when compared to the much older players,” said Bill.

He had to work twice as hard in order to compete with players nearly twice his age. “The hardest part about playing in the Deaflympics is that there is no age gap. I was playing with people that were 10 to 20 years older than me, and this causes the style of play to be a lot faster than I was used to,” said Bill.

The US team faced off against four other countries during the Deaflympics and managed make it to the championship, where they soundly defeated Canada (7-3) to win gold.

“The feeling was incredible I never knew I would accomplish so much this early in my hockey career,” said Bill proudly.