Yesterday, I finally got to watch ESPN’s E60 on Travis Roy, 11 seconds. For those of you who are not familiar with his story, this link is from his foundation and a great summary of his life. It is a story of sadness but at the same time, it is a story of strength. Travis was a newcomer to the Boston University hockey program in 1998, when he went out for his first shift against a top hockey program, for “the” top hockey program and 11 seconds later, he would be be flat on the ice after hitting the boards head first. His father’s rule was “get up Trav” but he would not be getting up this time. However, while he has not regained much of what he lost that day, (cannot walk and has limited feeling below his neck), he has become a symbol of perseverance for all of those who are sharing spinal injuries and many others who have other ailments.
I met Travis about a year after his injury and while he will never remember me (our conversation was limited to “hello” at the Boston Garden), that conversation left me hopeful for his future. As a player of hockey my whole life, I could not imagine having this sport taken away from me. I grew up on the ice, with practices often and games every weekend.
My dad would take me everywhere for games when I was just a kid and we played early mornings and late nights (I still remember till this day, sitting in the parking lot of the Burlington Ice Palace at 5am in the cold, waiting for the rink manager to open things up). While my hockey career never reached the levels of Travis Roy, it is full of fond memories and ones that I am constantly reminded of till this day; I coach my son each weekend, making the trip to the rink, lacing up the skates and wishing him well. That same relationship existed between Roy and his Dad as well as all Sons and fathers as hockey is a bonding experience – and that reason is why this piece has effected me!
You see, Travis Roy youthfulness before the injury, symbolized by the following quote, is visible in my son. It is fresh air in an era of stress and hate and a story that continues to grow each time he steps on the ice with his little 6 year old legs. Travis’ said prior to the injury, about the moments before stepping on the ice,
When I see the 20 year old Roy, I see my son. I am sure every hockey dad sees his son or daughter and this is not new info. It is not a sport that everyone plays though and thus has a small fraternity of members. If you cannot skate, you cannot play. It is rather simple. Balance, edges and power help a player get around on the ice surface. Practice from there as it relates to passing or shooting advances the player. With basic skills in place, a player learns how to really “play” the game utilizing strategy. And by the time they are 13-14 years of age, they either drop the game entirely or try to take their game to the next level, whether high school, juniors and clubs. All along the way, the parents offer advice and try to provide enough to allow their son or daughter to excel at the game! Then college comes and goes and the next phase of our lives takes place.
Travis Roy shared next his phase well, following the injury, with this,
My 6 year old son has his whole life ahead of him. He loves the game that he has trouble mastering from a skating perspective. But he gets up, over and over, because that is what he does. While my son does not know about spinal injuries or even what playing college hockey means, he always gets up and that is the legacy of Travis Roy; he has not literally “got up” but he has been an inspiration to many and to me for getting up and sharing his story. His Dad was in tears in parts of the E60 piece but in the end, he is there for his son sharing this next phase. And it is a reminder to me, no matter the circumstances, I will always do the same. Life is not static…best to be looking forward for better avenues. And to be always in the corner of your kids.
Thank you for Reading!