by Josh Sweeney
March 13, 2014 (ISN) – Sled hockey brought me back to life. After losing both of my legs in Afghanistan, I came home lost. I didn’t really know who I was anymore. That plan I had for my life in the military was gone.
Then I discovered this sport, and a team of guys who don’t accept pity. Suddenly things started making sense again: I found a new type of camaraderie, a different way to serve my country, and an exciting plan for my future.
My first time playing sled hockey was sort of a disaster. The sled was way too big — I had to put on like two pairs of extra snow pants — and my upper body strength just wasn’t there yet.
Playing the game right is an investment: Custom sleds run about $1,500 a pop, and instead of one stick, we have two. And there’s a physical cost, too. Training every day, away from my family — it takes a toll.
But that’s part of what I love about the game — it’s not a sport you can do right away. You’ve got to be out there working every single day.
None of it would happen without Team USA fans who help make it possible for us to play.
Before each game, I take a minute to fold up my jersey in my lap, the USA facing up, and think about what I am playing for. The people who have helped me get here. The country I represent.
Don’t forget, you can catch all the Paralympic action live from Sochi on Team USA’s livestream, underwritten by BMW, BP, Citi, The Hartford, P&G and Liberty Mutual Insurance.