Hi, this is a feature that combines two of my loves — hockey and reading — into a neat little blog post! Reviews will be posted as I get through the mountain of titles that I have yet to read. I encourage everyone on IR to chime in with reviews of their own about whatever they’ve read! The more, the merrier.
Most hockey players think of their careers in the long term. They plan for college or junior, the draft, the big leagues. Until October of 1995, Travis Roy was one of them.
Then came the first shift of his college hockey career on a line alongside Chris Drury and Mike Sylvia. Eleven seconds into that shift, he went awkwardly into the boards. His neck was broken. Everything from the shoulders down was paralyzed.
Eleven Seconds: A Story of Tragedy, Courage, and Triumph is Roy’s account of his life before and after that moment, as written with the help of Sports Illustrated writer E.M. Swift. He went from promising forward into a wheelchair in that small of a time frame — and none of it was easy to deal with.
Only 20 years old at the time and faced with a lifetime of having to depend on other people, Roy speaks honestly about his ordeal, from his emotions on the ice after the accident to his physical therapy, to his relationships with family, friends, his girlfriend, and his BU coach Jack Parker. He spares few details, going into his daily routines, his struggles with trying to fit back in after going back to BU, and most of all about trying to fit back into hockey in some way.
If you’re looking for a lighthearted book, this isn’t really your cup of tea. Though it is earnest, and Roy manages to keep a positive face on for the most part, the story of a guy trying to live a normal life as a quadriplegic is more tearjerker than frivolous fun (obviously). Still, it’s worth a read, if only because Roy managed to find some type of peace after re-enrolling at BU and helping create the Travis Roy Foundation, an organization dedicated to research and financial help for others with spinal cord injuries. The book ends on this hopeful note, with Roy’s belief that one day there will be a cure and he will walk again.
Now, 15 years after this book was written, Travis Roy is 37 years old. He graduated from BU and is a motivational speaker in and around New England and elsewhere. He has regained some use in his right arm and lives independently. The Travis Roy Foundation is still in existence, with a website here, and Roy also has his own site separate from the organization. He also still supports the BU Terriers and returned to speak at his alma mater in April of this year. It’s great to see him doing well and working to help others in the process.
If you haven’t read this book already, I suggest you give it a try. It’s personal, moving, and above all, brave, with no frills. Though it deals a little bit more with Roy’s personal journey rather than strictly hockey, Roy and Swift together show the devastation of losing something you once loved, along with the hope of finding it again at some point along the way.