That’s all the time it took for Travis Roy to go from a young hockey player with all the potential in the world, to finding himself staring at the tile of a hospital ceiling, a world of uncertainty ahead.
His story is well known throughout hockey circles and beyond; a 20-year-old forward who, in October of 1995, was playing his first collegiate game for Boston University, living a dream he had worked so hard to achieve. But on his first shift, a freak accident caused him to crash into the end boards and crack his fourth vertebra, rendering him motionless on the ice.
Twenty years later, after establishing the Travis Roy Foundation in 1997 to raise money and find a cure for spinal cord injury survivors, Roy travels the country, telling his story of hope.
That tale was heard by Nashville Predators prospects during the team’s development camp, a message from hockey player to hockey player on how Roy has approached life since his accident, a message that is applicable no matter the circumstance.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Roy said of speaking to the Preds prospects. “Where my life took a change, these guys are right where I was at when I had my injury and big goals… These guys are right in that moment. I wish I could switch with them, but hopefully I gave them a little wisdom, a little knowledge to enjoy the moment, and also perspective on dealing with our challenges, whether they’re chosen or not.”
The talk resonated throughout the roster, including to Preds prospect Tyler Moy, a forward at Harvard. Moy and his teammates were humbled by the message, realizing Roy was in their skates two decades ago when his path was altered.
“To be able to extract beauty from life, to be able to see the positive and to consider himself the fortunate one, it’s really inspiring,” Moy said. “Whatever problems we’re going through in life, it makes those problems seem really miniscule, and it makes you count your blessings and be grateful. He’s a great spokesperson for that message.”
Roy said his nerves were heightened more than usual during his talk to the Preds, simply because of the current statuses of the attendees: right on the cusp of making it to the highest level of hockey in the world. But like anything he does, Roy carried himself with grace and dignity, imparting his wisdom to those who will benefit most from it.
“The biggest thing is just to enjoy the experience; I never had the chance to, and I was trying to get them to recognize they’re the ones with the opportunity to live out the dreams that so many of us can only participate from afar,” Roy said. “It’ll be fun to follow how they do and see which guys rise to the top. Chances are maybe a couple of them make it, but hopefully they’ll enjoy the experience along the way.”
And while not all will find the lights of the NHL one day, they all hope to ‘make it’ in whatever they do, carrying Roy’s message in tow.
“A major thing he talked about was attitude and whatever gets thrown your way, if you can handle it with the right attitude, be positive and be grateful of things in your life no matter what comes your way, I think that’s something that you can look forward to,” Moy said. “That’s something that I can relate to if things don’t go the way that I plan it or I have a bad game or something like that. To be able to relate back to that and realize people have gone through much worse, and I can have a better attitude and step into the next challenge with that attitude, I think is something that I’ve really taken from him today.”