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Remembering Travis Roy


Today it’s common to see Division I ice hockey players from the state of Maine.

In the early 1990s, that was not the case. Eric Weinrichstarred at Maine, but natives on the team were few and far between.

A teen from Yarmouth, Maine, began making waves in the hockey community in the early 1990s. He then took his talents to Tabor Academy in Massachusetts. He chose not to return home and play for the Black Bears but enrolled at then arch-rival Boston University.

It was October of 1995, when Maine native Travis Roy made his collegiate debut for Boston University. The culmination of a lifetime of hard work and dedication. Morning practices when it was still dark outside and countless hours in the car driving to games. That night, his dream was realized, only something went tragically wrong. Just 11 seconds into his first collegiate shift, he crashed into the boards, cracking his fourth and fifth vertebrae. It left him paralyzed. 

A few weeks ago, I heard that it was the 25th anniversary of his accident. Twenty-five years - wow - I remember the night it happened. In the years that followed, Roy did incredible things. He started the Travis Roy Foundation to assist spinal cord injury survivors and with research. The foundation has raised millions of dollars.

His number was retired by North Yarmouth Academy and hangs in the rafters next to that of Eric Weinrich. His number was also retired and hangs in Agganis Arena. He was the first ice hockey player to have his number retired at Boston University. The rink at NYA is the “Travis Roy Arena” and the top high school hockey player in Maine receives the Travis Roy Award each year.

In 1998, he teamed with Sports Illustrated writer E.M. Swift for his autobiographytitled 11 Seconds. I read it when it first came out and just dug it out. I’ll reread it. I’ll cry again, and I’ll laugh again. I encourage you to find the book. Or maybe YouTube one of his talks. As I was searching YouTube to make sure one existed, I came across a video of Patriots Coach Bill Belichick offering condolences to his family.

Travis Roy passed away on Thursday, Oct 29. Just 45 years old. It hit home. He was born just a few months before me in Augusta. He had recently had surgery to “sustain his quality of life as a quadriplegic.” He passed away from complications of the surgery.

The news spread quickly. There was a lengthy feature in the Boston Globe shortly after. It makes me think that it wasn’t a complete surprise to those close to the situation but makes it none the less sad.

It elicited a myriad of emotions within me. Travis chased a dream he had when he first laced up his skates. He accomplished that dream, and nothing can ever take that away. His father says that when he arrived down on the ice right after the accident happened that Travis looked at him and said, “But Dad, I made it.” My sincere condolences to his family and the BU hockey community.

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