Every young hockey player, from the time they strapped on a pair of skates and felt the breeze as they whisked down the ice for the very first time, has dreamed about standing on the blue line during the flag raising ceremony at an Olympic Gold Medal game as they play their country’s national anthem. Very few have ever been able to realize that dream and have been able to feel the pride of representing their nation by winning that Gold Medal.
Brody Roybal, from Northlake, Illinois, will have that chance next March at the 2014 Winter Paralympic games in Sochi, Russia. As the youngest player ever to be selected to the United States Paralympic Sled team, and possibly the youngest ever chosen for any nation’s Paralympic sled team, Brody’s selection to the team did not come without a lot of hard work, sacrifice and dedication.
Brody was born without any legs . . . to make matters more difficult, he is unable to wear prostheses since he has no femur bones. This perfect abnormality hasn’t stopped Brody from pursuing his dream – in fact it has empowered him. At the age of five his first attempt at sports was wheelchair basketball – a sport he tried and didn’t like. He then tried horseback riding which also wasn’t something that captured Brody’s interest. Then, his parents Bob and Michele heard about sled hockey for kids with physical disabilities and they thought he should give it a try. That was all it took. He was directed by Patrick Byrne, a member of the 2002 United States gold medal sled team to go the Hornets Youth Sled team, a program available at no charge for any youngster with a physical disability who can propel himself or herself on a sled.
Editor’s Note: Kevin McKee from RIC Blackhawks also made 2014 Sled Squad. Kevin, from Chicago, Illinois, will be featured in the next edition of the AHAI Newsletter.