Something interesting here! We recently caught up with Josh Pauls of the United States National Sled Hockey Team! In the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, Josh won a gold medal beating Japan 2-0! He attends Lindenwood University in Missouri during the year, studying Sports Management. You can follow him on Twitter: @SpudsUSA9. You can also follow me on Twitter: @hkyblogger. You can also “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/notyouraveragehockeyblog
As per usual, we are in bold.
How has your day been?
My days been going great. Really enjoying the summer winding down.
What’s a day in the life of Josh Pauls?
That depends on if I’m at college or not. I go to school at Lindenwood University in Missouri and that day tends to be filled with classes, studying, weight lifting and hockey most days. Definitely gotta have time to spend with friends on campus though! During the summer when I’m home, ice is a little harder to come by but I’m working out regularly and just relaxing and enjoying my time off from school with family or friends back home in New Jersey.
How old were you when you had both legs amputated?
I was 10 months old when they were amputated at the knee.
Can you tell us the reason why you had your legs amputated?
I was missing both tibia bones, the largest bone in the lower half of your leg, and that was why they decided on amputation. It was either that or be confined to a wheelchair.
Was it hard growing up without your legs?
Not really. It was easy to make friends even with robotic looking legs. I even joke about not having legs regularly, just to keep the mood light.
When people ask you to explain sledge hockey how do you explain it?
Usually I have a picture on my phone that I show people and then explain from there. But really all it is, is hockey with a different way of skating. There’s an extra penalty included in sled hockey, but all the other rules are the same. It’s just as competitive and maybe even more physical than able bodied hockey.
So ice hockey has the NHL, what does sled hockey have?
In the US we have leagues like the Midwest Sled Hockey League and Northeast Sled Hockey League, but those are leagues for anyone that wants to play. The national team is the pinnacle of the sport. It is a lot more selective especially with sled hockey growing so fast in recent years. There isn’t anything professional yet, but with the sport growing like it is and if it gets more exposure, I feel there will be something in the future.
What’s the coolest part of playing sled hockey?
The coolest part for me is just getting to meet tons of people from all around the country and, with the national team, the world. The camaraderie that you build with your teammates is my favorite part of the sport. A close second is that sled hockey gives people that might have limited mobility otherwise to be put on the same level playing field where disabilities don’t matter. Anyone can excel.
So you’ve had a pretty decorated career at such a young age; winning four international gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. Does winning a gold medal feel just as special anymore?
Winning gold never gets old. I am extremely competitive in everything I do, and sports just brings out that trait tenfold. Hearing the national anthem played after winning gold is a feeling like no other. Anything less than gold is just below the standards I set for myself and my teammates. I’m hoping the gold rush continues in my career in the future, especially in Sochi!
What is it like being an Paralympic Gold Medalist?
Its a feeling like no other. To represent my country on the biggest stage of the sport gives me such a feeling of pride and to bring home the gold especially at 17 was just awesome. The way we took gold also adds to the feeling. Getting 5 shutouts in all 5 games and being as dominant as we were was something I don’t think sled hockey will ever see again. It’s something no one can take away from me that I’ll have to pass on to future generations.
Where do you keep your gold medals? Do you ever just put it on every so often for fun?
I keep most of my medals in a display case in my house. Some are standing up, others are laying in there. My Paralympic gold medal stays in the safe though, I don’t want anything happening to it. Once we win them, I don’t really wear it again unless I’m showing them off at different camps I coach at.
What has been the highlight of your career?
Winning gold in Vancouver 2010 was definitely the greatest moment of my career so far. The bond we had as a team and the way we played as well as the experience of the Paralympic Games was just something I will never forget. It was by far the best thing I have ever been a part of.
How about your lowpoint?
During the National Team tryouts in July of 2009, I was not selected for the National Team and played on the Junior National Team for the first few months of the season. It was a tough blow to take considering I had been on the team the year before. However, all it took was some hard work and a desire to prove the coaches wrong that got me back on to the team.
The next part is a rapid fire round. There is where people get to know about you. Don’t think just answer. Ready?
My dad’s baked mac and cheese!
What’s on your iPod?
Mostly country music, but rap and rock for games.
I’d really like to travel Europe.
Favourite sport not named hockey?
Football. I’m a big Dallas Cowboys fan.
Left handed or right handed?
Right handed except on the ice. I can use both hands then.
Advice for aspiring sled hockey players?
Watch a TON of hockey, especially the NHL. You pick up so many little things if you watch closely. Follow the position you play instead of the puck. Also, always give 150% in everything you do and NEVER give up. That attitude and work ethic will get you far in sled hockey, but is great for all aspects of life too.
Who should we interview next?
Declan Farmer is one of my linemates and he’s a very good player at only 15. Brody Roybal just made the team for the first time in his career and he’s a young player to watch.
Thank you for your time.