My initial discovery of sledge hockey came during the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi. I was already rooting for Team USA in the hockey, so it seemed natural to switch on and watch Team USA in the sledge hockey too (or sled hockey as they call it in the US!).
Unsurprisingly, it took me about 15 minutes of watching to fall in love with the sport. And the team.
While my support these days is completely with the GB team, I will always follow Team USA as well. Which is why I was saddened to hear about the retirement of two of their players.
Taylor was still in his teens when he helped Team USA win a silver medal at the 2004 IPC Sledge Hockey Championships. He’s played with teams across the US, including the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Blackhawks team and, most recently, the Dallas Stars team. He’s been to three Paralympic games, coming away with a bronze and two gold medals. Over the years he’s played a total of 84 games for Team USA, accumulating an impressive 58 points (33 goals, 25 assists).
Suffering from osteogenesis imperfecta (more commonly known as brittle bone disease) meant that Taylor spent most of his childhood in body casts. But after discovering first wheelchair hockey, and then sled hockey, he found a sport that he was not only good at, but loved doing too. Off the ice, Taylor works for Bank of America as a portfolio manager associate – he’s currently studying for an MBA – and hopes to become a financial advisor for professional athletes.
Andy had been part of the USA National Sled Hockey Team for four years when he was first given the Captaincy in the 2009-2010 season. Now in his 30s, Andy is a lot older than some of his teammates (especially the teenagers Brody Roybal and Declan Farmer), but it doesn’t slow him down on the ice at all. Despite taking a couple of years off from international competition, and switching from a forward position to defense, he has 18 points over 41 games.
Before the accident that saw him lose both legs, Andy played roller hockey for the Bettendorf (Iowa) Young Guns. He played for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Blackhawks from 2003-2011. Off the ice, Andy works for a prosthetic and orthotic company, and he and his wife have two children.
Both players will be sorely missed – not just by their teammates, but by the fans across the world who love to watch them play. I wish both of them all the luck in the world, and hope that they achieve everything they want to.