2014 Sochi Olympics

Dreams on Ice

Paralympian Brody Roybal talks to TFK about his hopes for the 2014 Winter Games

March 14, 2014
JUSTIN SETTERFIELD—GETTY IMAGES

Team U.S.A.'s Brody Roybal, 15, celebrates scoring the fourth goal in a preliminary round Paralympic ice sledge hockey game against Italy on March 8, in Sochi, Russia.

Sochi, Russia is back in action. The Winter Paralympic Games kicked off on March 7. The nine-day event gives disabled athletes the chance to compete for gold (click here to view a slide show of highlights so far). Sochi is hosting 547 athletes from 45 countries for this year’s games. Team U.S.A. has 80 members in attendance. Among those players is 15-year-old Brody Roybal, the youngest American Paralympian in Sochi. The Chicago native is playing for the American sledge hockey team (also known as "sled hockey" in the U.S.). On March 13, the U.S. team beat Canada in a semifinal match to advance to the finals. They'll play Russia in the gold medal match on March 15. 

The U.S. sledge hockey team celebrates on the Shayba Arena ice after winning the semifinal match against Canada on March 13.

HANNAH PETERS—GETTY IMAGES
The U.S. sledge hockey team celebrates on the Shayba Arena ice after winning the semifinal match against Canada on March 13.

Before Brody left for Sochi, TFK spoke to the athlete about his training schedule, his hopes for Sochi, and what Team USA means to him.

TFK:

How does it feel to be going to Sochi?

BRODY ROYBAL:

It feels amazing. It’s such an honor to be able to go to Sochi and represent my country. 

TFK:

What inspired you to be an athlete?

BRODY:

When I was younger, I was looking for any disabled sport to play. I tried many different sports, like wheelchair softball and wheelchair basketball, but hockey was the only one that stuck with me.

TFK:

Where did you have the opportunity to try and play sledge hockey?

BRODY:

When I was looking for a sport to play, I found the RIC (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) Blackhawks, which is a [sledge hockey] team down in Chicago. They were an adult team at the time, but I started practicing with them.  Then, they told me I should go play for the Chicago Hornets, which is the youth team here in Chicago. 

TFK:

What’s your daily routine?

BRODY:

Every morning I wake up at 5 AM and skate from 6 AM to 7 AM.  Then, I put in a full day of school. During lunch period I go and work out with my trainer, and then when I get home I have a cross-country skiing device I use to practice skating off the ice.  And throughout the week I skate with the local teams – the Hornets and the Blackhawks. 

TFK:

You must get tired from such a busy schedule. What keeps you inspired and motivated?

BRODY:

That end goal: the gold medal. 

TFK:

What was the qualifying process like for you leading up to Sochi?

BRODY:

Before I made it onto the national team, I played on a junior team. In 2013 I tried out for the Olympic team. There are four games you play: two for anyone who wants to try out and two when you’re watched closely by coaches. They scout out players to make the final team from those two games. 

TFK:

Describe the moment you found out you were going to the Paralympics.

BRODY:

We were supposed to get an email from the general manager but I got a text message from some phone number I didn’t recognize, saying congrats on making the team. I freaked out and went and scrolled through all my emails. Then I found the message with the final roster, and I was just in awe.

TFK:

How does it feel to be the youngest player on the roster?

BRODY:

It’s such a great opportunity at such a young age to represent my country at such a high level and be able to compete.

TFK:

What does it mean for you personally to be a party of Team USA?

BRODY:

Up until three years ago, I didn’t really ever consider that this was what I wanted to do.  Now, this means the world to me.

 

Click here to view a slide show of Paralympic highlights.

 

 

 

 

 


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