Greg Shaw Among World’s Top Stars in Sled Hockey, Earned Two Gold Medals at Paralympics Games
By Maria Sonnenberg // April 17, 2018
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Hockey is a tough sport, but sled hockey, the sport in which players with disabilities use a tiny sled to propel themselves across the ice, makes playing “stand-up” hockey seem as easy as enjoying afternoon tea.
With sled hockey, participants sit on their skates using a tiny sled, an adaptive device affixed to two skate blades and a runner in front.
Two shortened hockey sticks with a blade on the end and a pick on the other enables players to propel themselves around the ice rink. Like regular hockey, it is a fierce sport with 60-mile-an-hour slap shots, hard checking and elevated puck shooting.
“To me, sled hockey players are the greatest athletes,” said lifelong traditional hockey player Lee Hathaway, who volunteers with Hurricanes, the award-winning sled hockey team at Space Coast Iceplex.
Among the world’s top stars in sled hockey is Greg Shaw, plays for the Hurricanes. The former USA National Sled Hockey Team member earned a gold medal at the Paralympics games in Vancouver, Canada, in 2010, as well as in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Shaw also skated off with two gold medals at the World Sled Hockey Championships in 2008 and 2012. He was a featured player on the national team for eight years before he retired.
Don’t ever tell this Merritt Island-born boy that he has a disability, because he is not going to listen. He will instead conquer any sport he likes.
“I didn’t even know I was disabled until I went to kindergarten,” said Shaw, who now lives in Titusville.
He grew up surfing and skateboarding, even though he suffers from sacral agenesis, a rare congenital disorder that severely affects the lower portion of the spine.
“He had to learn to do everything his own way,” said his wife, Erica.
A natural at sports, he excels at any sport that attracts him. In 2005, Shaw discovered monoskiing, which uses a single double-wide ski, while studying at the Winter Sports School, a college preparatory program based in Park City, Utah.
VERSATILE WORLD-CLASS ATHLETE
By 2008, he was the top junior monoski racer in the country. He could have joined the national monoski team, but in 2007 he had also been selected by the USA National Sled Hockey Development Team, so had to make a choice. Hockey won because Shaw loves the physicality of the sport.
Shaw began his sled hockey career as a teenager, playing from 2007 to 2011 with the National Ability Center’s Golden Eagles sled hockey club in Park City.
Shaw continued earning awards for his talent. After he returned to Florida, he entered the X Games in 2011, placing first in the adaptive division. In 2012, he was tops in the Extremity Games.
At 28, Shaw still plays hockey with the Hurricanes, but as the stay-home dad to eight-year-old Grace, the athlete no longer has an unlimited amount of free time he can spend on the ice. However, as much as his schedule will allow, he loves mentoring the budding sled hockey players at the Iceplex.
“I want to give back to the community,” he said. “I’ve fulfilled my goals. I’m very blessed. So many people can’t say that.”
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