SKANEATLES – It has been quite a journey for Colin Gooley to get the honor of wearing the letters USA acrosse his chest.
“I never would thought that I was on the usa national sled hockey team. Never woulda thought that in a million years,” says Colin Gooley, Baldwinsville native and US National Sled Hockey team defenseman.
His life changed forever when, what was believed to be growing pains in his right leg, turned into something much more.
I was seven years old and I was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. It was called osteogenic sarcoma”, says Colin.
“It was really quite a shock, you know you’re just scared. You don’t know what’s gonna happen you don’t know what to do,” says Phil Gooley, Colin’s Dad.
For Colin’s Dad, Phil, mother Daw, sister Alison and entire Gooley family, the search began for the best doctors.
“Thank god we had a lot of family around, which was very supportive, helped us a lot,” says Phil. “We decided to go down to New York City for treatment with him. We thought they were the best in the world and pretty much they were because they basically saved his life. We went to memorial sloan hospital.”
Colin began chemotheraphy in August of 2001, at just seven years old. The most important thing for Colin was to be healthy and remain active, so that November, now eight years old, Colin decided to have his leg amputated.
“I think it was pretty easy for me to think well I want to still be able to play sports and be active,” says Gooley. “I think at that point too, probably my biggest worry was going to gym glass and being able to do whatever.”
“He really wanted to be active and he turned out to be a lacrosse player,” says Phil.
After nine months of living at the Ronald McDonald House in NYC, now with a new prosthetic leg, Colin went back into some of the sports he played before he began treatment.
He played lacrosse in high school and even snowboarded and played golf. However, his junior year of high school he had to have a bone osteotomy to fix the growth of the bone in his right leg.
“That was where I met a physical therapist who knew about sled hockey. I had never been into hockey my entire life,” says Colin.
Colin was hooked almost immediately adapting to the sled, the speed of the sport and the competition. What started out as a recreational sport for him grew in in intensity and in his own determination when he made the us development team in 2014.
“If I can make the devolpment team I want to make the national team,” says Colin.
Colin has been on the national team since last July and has already achieved some success winning a gold medal with the team at the Para Hockey Cup in December. Now the focus is on the world championships Ostrava, Czech Republic. This year, its about redemption.
“In 2017, I wasn’t on the team but we took silver so I really think we’re just going there to bring home the gold.,” says Colin. “I’ve never been out of the country so far. So I’m really excited to go.”
From making a life altering decision as a young kid to where he is now, Colin says sled hockey has brought him more than he ever imagined.
“I always try to think of the postive things. How I been able to meet a lot, how I been able to hopefully impact other people. Just because youre in a situation that might not be the best one, you can still try to figure out ways to move forward and continue to live,” says Colin.
“You know you want to be a role model for your son, but he is my role model. After I see what he’s been through and what he is now its great. It really is,” says Phil.
The US is one of eight teams in the World Para Ice Hockey Championships joined by Canada, Czech Rebuplic, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea and Sweden.
The United States will play Canada, South Korea and Norway in group play. The US and Canada play Saturday at 12:30pm ET. Then South Korea on Sunday at 10:30am ET and finally Norway at 10:30am ET on Tuesday.
All US games will air on the Olympic Channel and be streammed on the Olympic Channel.com.
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