Travis Roy Addresses Injury, Process Of Adjustment
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 13:02
Travis Roy, former Boston University hockey player and author of Eleven Seconds, spoke about his remarkable story of recovery and resilience to students and members of the community in the Murray Function Room on Tuesday night. Roy spoke of his devastating injury and incredible physical and mental recovery, reminding students to set goals and never stop making new ones.
Roy, a Maine native, explained how hockey was his passion, and all his goals leading up to his freshman year at BU revolved around accomplishing those goals.
“For me, hockey wasn’t just a goal, it was a passion, and I was willing to do everything and anything I could to cross off my goals,” Roy said. “I was going to show everybody that I had it in me. This little kid from Yarmouth, Maine could and would do it.”
Roy explained that he focused on his hockey skills as well as keeping a strong academic record in order to accomplish his goal of being recruited to play Division I college hockey. He committed to doing whatever it took to accomplish his goals. His dreams were realized when he received an offer from BU, as well as being contacted by many other schools, including University of Maine and Harvard.
“When you find yourself on a threshold, about to make a change in your life, your career, to take a chance that could change your life, don’t ever be afraid to make that leap,” Roy said. “You know what happens when you don’t take that chance, if you don’t take that leap? Generally nothing.”
Roy made a new goal after joining the BU hockey team, and that was to play in the first game of the season. He was selected out of six freshmen on the team to be in the lineup of the first game and his goal was met, but a new challenge was presented to him at the same time. During the first 11 seconds of the game, Roy went into the boards headfirst and cracked his fourth vertebrae.
“I had made it,” he said. “I stepped out on the ice for a Division I college hockey team, and nobody can take that away from me. I accomplished one of my goals, my dream. It may have only been 11 seconds from the time the referee dropped the puck and blew his whistle, but … I had beaten the odds. I had chosen this challenge and I made it … but at the same time, the challenge had chosen me.”
Roy spent the next four months in a hospital bed as doctors prepared him for his new reality as a quadriplegic. After those four months, he went to a rehabilitation facility in Georgia, where he learned how to use his wheelchair and began physical therapy.
“There were times where I wondered, ‘Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like?’ It’s that feeling inside that all of us have at one point or another, where you just can’t take anymore,” Roy said. “But we can. Each one of us, we have it in us to dig just a little bit further. It’s an inner spirit that’s capable of doing things we could never imagine. It’s a matter of sheer will.”
Roy went on to explain that he needed to make new goals, like returning and finishing school, and completing rehab. He also explained the importance of his family, and how love in general helped him through his difficult recovery.
Roy started the Travis Roy Foundation, which has raised more than $4.5 million over 15 years, to help people with spinal cord injuries and to sponsor research for a cure.
“I’ve seen and I’ve proven firsthand what can be done when you have the right technology and the right support. It’s been a goal of my family and I to try and provide those same opportunities for other people.”
Roy finished his talk by explaining how his life now revolves around his family and his lifestyle is more difficult, but still normal.
“Times together with my family are my highest points now,” Roy said. “No, I can’t do the physical things that I used to, but I can still laugh, I can still cry … and you tell me, what’s more important than that? I hope that by hearing my story you can see that who you are at the core is really what’s going to get you through life’s challenges, whether you chose them or they chose you.”