I stated before that I wanted this blog to be about people who love the game of hockey and how it became part of or changed their lives. I don't think this man expected hockey to change his life in the way it did. Nobody did. But on the night of Friday, Oct. 20, 1995, Travis Roy stepped on the ice for his first shift in his first college hockey game with Boston University. His life would never be the same.
.Travis grew up around hockey. He played for his father, Lee Roy, who played hockey at the University of Vermont and was the MVP. When he was about seven he became a stickboy for the Maine Mariners of the AHL. While Travis was with the team it was coached by coaches such as Tom McVie, Mike Milbury, and John Paddock. Travis often had to clean up the ice after one of Milbury's explosions at the ref. where Milbury threw water bottles, tape, and sticks on to the ice. So he had an unique view of hockey from the inside out and dreamed of playing college hockey.
He would get to realize his dream when he joined the team at Boston University under coach Jack Parker. The coach told Travis he was going to dress for the team's home opener against North Dakota where they would raise the 1994-95 NCAA Championship banner in the Walter Brown Arena. Then, for the second game of the season he would start. The team they would be playing? The University of Vermont, his dad's alma mater. Both games were going to be a special.
So after the banner was raised at the home opener against North Dakota Travis sat on the bench to await his first shift. Boston University scored on the second shift of the game. Travis' line was up. He went over the boards to take his place at center ice with his team mate, and my favorite player, Chris Drury. When the puck was dumped into the corner Travis went to deliver a hit to the defenseman who retrieved it. But something went wrong and he tripped and deflected off the player and went into the boards with the top of his helmet. He laid motionless on the ice.
His father always told Travis, "Get up, you're not hurt". So when Travis did not get up everyone who knew him and the way he played knew something was wrong. Eventually his father made his way down to the ice where Travis was laying in the corner.
The following excerpt is taken from Eleven Seconds: A Story of Tragedy, Courage & Triumph by: Travis Roy with E.M. Swift:
"I wanted to sound upbeat, so I said, 'Hey, boy, let's get going. There's a hockey game to play.' But when I got down on the ice next to him, he said, 'Dad, I'm in deep ----. I can't feel my arms or legs. My neck hurts.' I was trying to think of something positive to say back. Then Travis looked me right in the eyes and said, 'But Dad. I made it.'" Lee's pale blue eyes fill with tears as he recounts this, and shaking his head, he starts to weep. "I said. 'You're right, son. You did.' It didn't last long. Eleven seconds. But he made it."
They would later find out that Travis had cracked his fourth vertebra and was paralyzed from the neck down. He was twenty years old.
Travis went on though and eventually created the Travis Roy Foundation which offers assistance to spinal injury patients and funds research to find a cure.
When the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 2001 one of the players on the team was asked what he planned to do with the cup when it was his turn. He said he was taking the cup to Travis Roy. Who was that player? Chris Drury.
Travis Roy said it like this:
"It alters your angle of regard to know there is, in fact, a family of man. To know the generous side of human nature, the fine, unselfish side, is around us all the time, waiting to emerge when the need is truly there." -Taken from Eleven Seconds: A Story of Tragedy, Courage & Triumph by: Travis Roy with E.M. SwiftI have created an online fund raising page under The Hockey Connection using Travis Roy's new fundraiser program called 24. Here is a little bit about what the 24 CLUB is:
The Travis Roy Foundation is thrilled to announce a new online fundraising program, the “24 CLUB.” The 24 CLUB is an annual fundraising program designed to generate funds and awareness on a national level for spinal cord injured individuals and research.
To become a 24 Club member, participants must sign up for their own Travis Roy Foundation online fundraising page, and then obtain at least 24 supporters to donate a minimum of $24. Individuals can now register for their online fundraising page at 24 CLUB. Volunteers from all over the United States are welcomed and encouraged to participate.
Please follow my link if you would like to make a donation. You can also create your own fund raising account and page if you would like to set your own goal and raise money yourself. Here is the link for The Hockey Connection's 24 fund raising page.
The Travis Roy Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in the United States and we rely on the support and generosity of the public.
If you would like to purchase a copy of Travis Roy's book here is a link. I loved this book and think all hockey fans should own a copy!