Meet the one-handed goalie stopping shots with a custom glove

Callie Bizuk, in her full goalie gear, during a practice session for the Sherwood Park U-16 A Strike ringette team.  (Emily Senger/CBC - photo credit)

Callie Bizuk, in her full goalie gear, during a practice session for the Sherwood Park U-16 A Strike ringette team. (Emily Senger/CBC – photo credit)

Callie Bizuk isn’t very good at taking no for an answer.

The goalie has played ringette since she was a child, even after some coaches told her she shouldn’t.

14-year-old Callie, a below-the-elbow amputee, was born without her right hand.

“When I was younger, I had a couple of trainers who said I couldn’t do it because of my different limbs,” Callie said. “I said, ‘I’ll do it, and I’ll be the best!'”

On a weeknight, Callie is sitting in a locker room at an ice rink in Sherwood Park, a suburb of Edmonton, wearing her red U-16 Strike A practice jersey.

“I don’t have a right hand,” Callie said. “I was born like this. You don’t know why. I’m just me.”

Callie plays Ringette at the second highest level in her age group with a goal of making the top team next season.

Being a one-handed goalie hasn’t always been a smooth journey. Callie had some help along the way, including from a dedicated orthotist and from a former national team goalkeeper who designed a one-of-a-kind goalie glove.

Early days at the rink

Callie’s mother, Kim Bizuk, remembers Callie acting when she was four years old.

“Her prosthesis was pretty heavy when she started,” Kim said. “She was on the ice as much as she got up.”

Emily Senger/CBC

Emily Senger/CBC

When Callie got her hang of gliding, there was a new challenge.

“She would slide in a full circle because the prosthesis would pull her sideways,” Kim said. “She just never stopped.”

Callie, listening next to her mother, bursts out in giggles.

“I’ve never heard that story before,” she said.

What Callie remembers is the attention that came with being a goalie.

“By the end of the game, everyone came and hugged me,” Callie said. “I kind of fell in love with her.”

When she started scoring more goals, her parents taped a goalie glove to her little arm with hockey tape and hoped for the best.

“It didn’t really save anything,” Callie said.

An arm and a glove

It was time to get outside help.

Callie and her family had previously worked with Lisa Peters, a board-certified prosthetist at Northern Alberta Prosthetic and Orthotic Services in Edmonton. Callie and Peters’ relationship goes back a long way.

Peters was then studying how to make prosthetics at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, BC.

Emily Senger/CBC

Emily Senger/CBC

“I’m good friends with Callie’s aunt and uncle,” Peters said. “I got a text from the family saying they just found out they are going to have a daughter with a limb difference. You had questions.”

Peters answered these questions and made Callie her first prosthesis when she was six months old.

However, a prosthesis presented a new challenge for a Ringette goalie.

“We make a lot of sports equipment,” said Peters. “But never a Ringette goalie device.”

Peters started researching. She called in Keely Brown, a former national-level Ringette goalie, to consult on the best angle for the prosthetic arm and glove.

Within a few adjustments, they had the new glove fully dialed in.

exclusion of competition

Callie remembers trying out her prosthetic goalie glove for the first time.

“It was a surreal experience,” she said. “I could actually play properly. I saved a lot more shots on the right. I could pick up the ring faster. I could throw the ring more too.”

Compared to other Ringette goalies, Callie still has some disadvantages. She needs physical therapy to build muscle in her back on the side where she wears the prosthesis. And when she saves a gauntlet, she has to switch the ring to her left hand to toss to her teammates.

Emily Senger/CBC

Emily Senger/CBC

Callie is known as a hard worker on the team, said Shelley Derewianka, Callie’s current coach.

“You don’t even realize she’s wearing these prosthetics,” Derewianka said. “The team has a lot of confidence in her so it’s easy for me to coach the team because we have a solid person on the net.”

Callie’s defensive teammates agree.

“She makes amazing saves. I don’t know how she does it,” said teammate Natalie Endres.

Now that she has the right gear for the game, Callie has big goals for the future.

“I want to try to make Team Canada,” she said. β€œIt would also be fun to play at school or university. I just want to do my best.”


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