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Nichols Hockey Unites For Roy Foundation

About a year ago Nichols School junior Ciara Barone remembers watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Travis Roy, the former Boston University hockey player who became a household name when he suffered a horrific spinal cord injury 11 seconds into his very first shift as a Terrier on October 20,1995.

Ever since seeing Roy’s story on TV Barone has been wanting to meet him. She got that wish. This past fall, Barone and the rest of her classmates, had a moving experience when Travis Roy spoke at Nichols about his life’s journeys.

“Travis has inspired me through his story,” Barone said. “I admire him for turning a negative life changing accident into a positive message to others instead of dwelling on the past. The Travis Roy Foundation is an incredible way to help others that have suffered injuries similar to Travis. Hearing Travis story changed my perspective on not only hockey, but life itself.”

Roy’s message touched the Nichols community deeply, but it especially resonated with the girls’ and boys’ hockey teams. Which is why on Dec.13 the Vikings held a special double header against Ridley College with funds raised going to the Travis Roy Foundation. The game collected over $2,100 for the Roy Foundation, which secures quality of life grants to help people with spinal cord injuries purchase adaptive equipment.

Roy, then just 20 years old, was trying to deliver a body check to North Dakota’s Mitch Vig. But Roy missed the check and fell awkwardly into the boards head first. He cracked his fourth and fifth vertebra, leaving him a quadriplegic.

Now 41, Travis Roy is known for champion efforts to help others with mobility issues. Roy travels the world sharing the story of his life. But it isn’t a story of how his life drastically changed on that fateful October day. But rather of how he moved forward. It was a story the Nichols hockey players embraced with amazement and appreciation.

“My sister (Maddie) goes to BU so I’ve heard his story before,” said Vikings senior co-captain Tom Elia. “I saw the ESPN (30 for 30) story on him, but I really didn’t realize how much of an impact he had until he came and spoke here. His perspective on life and everything that he’s done after his injury and when he played is just so inspiring that when you get out there you realize just how lucky you are to be skating and doing what you’re doing.”

Jamie Printz, head coach of the Nichols boys’ team, knows the Travis Roy story very well. He was actually living in Roy’s hometown of Augusta, Maine when Travis suffered the injury.

Describing a Roy as a local hero, Printz couldn’t help but smile when he recalled the buzz of excitement in the small town on the day of Roy’s first game with BU.

Printz will also never forget the cold chill that raced through everyone when they heard the news of Travis’s injury.

Hockey is a very tight nit, caring community. Printz knew that even though none of the Nichols students were even alive at the time of Travis Roy’s injury they would still be able to relate to him and learn from Roy’s message of perseverance. And how even though he had a traumatic life changing event-it didn’t change Travis as a person.

“I think the real message in his speech was I didn’t chose this. This chose me,” Printz said. “The same things that got me to where I was and the same values that I had are the same values that I still have. And what got me here again. I think that was his message in everything. Hard work equates to everything.”

The Vikings did Roy proud as they swept rival Ridley with the girls winning 4-2 on the strength of two points from Maggie Moell and great goal tending by Jada Brenon. Two goals by Bryan Bylsma lifted the boys to a 4-3 win.

“Playing this game is an honor and that’s what I got from that speech,” senior co-captain Matt Gasuik said. “It’s an honor to have a game named after him and tonight is pretty special.”

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