Henry makes good on goal
Hours after a life-changing accident, Tyrone Henry became determined to one day play for Canada’s National Sledge Team
Wendy Graves
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April 13, 2017
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In September 2010, Tyrone Henry lay confined to an Ottawa hospital bed. His sister, Samantha, had been driving her three brothers and a family friend down a gravel road when she lost control of the vehicle only minutes from home. Henry suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down.

It would’ve been easy – perhaps even understandable – for Henry, then 16, to feel sorry for himself, to lament what may have just been lost.

Instead…

“I knew from Day 1 in the ICU that I wanted to play for [Canada’s National Sledge Team],” says Henry, now 23. “It was a big goal of mine to be on this team, and to be here now is kind of surreal.”

“Here” is the 2017 IPC World Para Hockey Championship in Gangneung, South Korea.

“I think back to that day in the hospital, and seeing how far I’ve come since then is really cool,” he says. “I’m honoured to be part of a team that I saw in Vancouver [at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games] before I was even paralyzed.”

A stand-up hockey player for more than seven years, Henry never harboured illusions of one day playing for Canada’s National Men’s Team.

“But I could be a part of the sledge hockey team,” he says. “Just having that outlook, being able to make the most of it and realize I could be a part of something pretty awesome – represent my country and wear the jersey with pride and know that everybody here is really coming from the same place, it’s really cool being part of a team like that.”

Henry spent four months in the hospital. Active in hockey and soccer before his accident, he took up cycling – and later waterskiing, alpine skiing and endurance racing – only two months after coming home. By September, he was back on the ice, playing house league with the Ottawa Falcons.

“Right away, first time in the sled, the first feeling I had was the freedom of moving around on the ice again,” he says. He embraced playing hockey in a new way. A defenceman as a stand-up player, he had to adjust to not being able to move backward in the sled. “I loved the challenge of figuring out how to make it work for me and how to be a better player.”

He also found mentors in Marc Dorion and Todd Nicholson, alumni of Canada’s National Sledge Team.

“Having guys like that bring me up was really helpful because I didn’t know how I was going to get [to the national team level], but they had the experience and knew what needed to be done. Guys like that pushing me to be better got me to where I am today.”

In spring 2014, less than four years after his accident, Henry was named to Canada’s National Sledge Development Team for a three-game series against the United States. He knew he had turned a corner.

“I didn’t know what to expect going in there, but being able to compete with everyone at the development team level really opened my eyes to being that I could actually do this, this is a dream that could be realized.”

The following season he made two more appearances with the development team and earned his first invitation to a National Sledge Team camp. “[I saw] that I could keep pace with everybody, and I wasn’t too far behind. Then making [the team] the next year was everything just coming together.”

The world championship marks the fourth event Henry has played with Canada’s National Sledge Team. (There’s also that time he lined up against it: he was one of three Canadian up-and-comers named to Team Pan-Pacific for the 2016 IPC Pan-Pacific Championship.) He won a silver medal this past December at the 2016 World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown, P.E.I. But it’s the two gold medals he’s won at the International Ice Sledge Hockey Tournament in Turin, Italy, in 2015 and 2017, he cites as high points.

“And being in Korea, being able to compete for a world championship, is kind of living a highlight right now,” he says. It’s possible it may be even better than he envisioned it seven years ago. “It’s a really cool feeling to be able to be a part of this group, and I’m really honoured to be here and be a part of this team. It’s a highlight in the making, I think.”

For more information:

Lisa Dornan
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 / 403-510-7046 (mobile)
ldornan@hockeycanada.ca

 

Morgan Bell
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427
mbell@hockeycanada.ca

 

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
emadziya@hockeycanada.ca

 

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