The inspiring story of one accident victim’s road to the national sledge hockey team
Accident victims and their loved ones know that an accident changes many lives in an unforgettable second. All of a sudden the victims and their families are thrown into pain and chaos without any preparation or warning.
This is the story of a man whose indomitable spirit and determination drove him from tragedy to triumph.
As Bryan Sholomicki says, you just have to move forward. Take the best that you can from every situation. A new life means new doors to open, new opportunities to pursue.
And Bryan should know. On August 23, 2009 he was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident in which he sustained multiple injuries including third degree burns to over fifty percent of his body and the loss of part of his left leg. That day changed his life forever and it was the beginning of a long path of rehabilitation and therapies.
Thanks to a multidisciplinary rehabilitation team and Bryan’s steely determination he is now a champion sledge hockey player. He says he’d heard about sledge hockey even before the accident. So after three years of medical treatment and physical therapy, when he was finally in good enough shape to start working out and spending time with other athletes, he went to the sledge hockey training ground in Barrie (Simcoe team) and started training.
Bryan’s determination and lots of hard work at the training sites led to him being chosen for the 2014/15 Canadian national sledge hockey team. Although he downplays the work that has gone into making the national sledge hockey team, it is no easy feat. As the Hockey Canada website says: “Sledge hockey is the Paralympic
version of Ice hockey and... is quickly becoming one of the biggest attractions for spectators at the Paralympic Winter Games. It is fast-paced, highly physical and played by male athletes with a physical disability in the lower part of the body.”
This year in late April/early May, at the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships in Buffalo, New York, Team Canada beat Russia 3-2 in the semi-final match and ended up taking home the silver medal (after a gold medal match loss to the hosts, USA).
Bryan clearly loves the sport and is passionate about his new athletic calling. “It’s a great group of guys to spend time with. If you think about it, everyone in that locker room has been through something tragic, such as accidents, firefighting, or being born with a genetic disease, and we all have the same positive attitude and determination. And we have a lot of fun, too.”
The team took the summer off, before heading to Calgary at the end of August for tryouts. Every September, Hockey Canada chooses the national team for the year, as well as a development team, where younger or less experienced sledge hockey players can gain national experience.
After winning the silver medal earlier this year, Bryan said the next big competition the team has set their sights on is the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games which will be in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from March 9–18, 2018.
Bryan clearly has a determined and positive attitude, but he also credits his family for being by his side during his long road to recovery. He also credits his lawyers at Carranza LLP. He said he would recommend that accident victims choose Carranza to handle their personal injury case. “When you have great people representing you, you can focus on your recovery: getting better and moving forward”.
Bryan with Juan Carranza
On top of getting strong and fit after his accident and becoming a sledge hockey player for the national team, Bryan is also an entrepreneur. He partnered with a former boss to start his own construction firm. When asked how he got to where he is today, Bryan shrugs as if it’s no big deal. “You gotta keep moving forward. Take the best you can from every situation. Even without an accident, you can have a bad day every day if that’s your attitude. It’s all about your mindset.”
For more about the national sledge hockey team, visit: hockeycanada.ca.
Bryan with some of the Carranza LLP team
This story was first published in the Fall 2015 issue of Mosaic, our newsletter for clients and contacts.