Plano’s Taylor Lipsett, USA Sled Hockey Team, go for gold against Russia at 11 … – Dallas Morning News (blog)

Posted: Sunday, March 16, 2014

SOCHI, RUSSIA – MARCH 08: Taylor Lipsett of the United States looks on during the Ice Sledge Hockey Preliminary Round Group A match between the United States of America and Italy at Shayba Arena on March 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images) 03122014xMETRO

Plano’s Taylor Lipsett is a member of USA Hockey’s Olympic Sled Hockey Team that will play in the gold medal game in the  2014 Winter Paralympics at 11 a.m. Saturday in Sochi, Russia. USA will play Russia, and the game will be televised on NBC.

Here is a story that ran in our Friday editions:

Sled Hockey

Invented: In the early 1960s in Sweden.

Sleds: Players are strapped into seats, with a double-bladed runner directly beneath their seat and a metal frame running out to a balance point at the front of the sled. There is room for players to stickhandle the puck beneath the sled.

Sticks: The sticks have curved hockey blades on one end and propelling cleats on the other, so players propel themselves with the cleat end and then slide the stick up their hand to stickhandle and shoot.

Rink: The bench area has ice to accommodate sledding in and out, and the boards in front of the bench are clear so participants can see the game.

Rules: Standard Olympic rules, including hitting. The only special rule is “teeing-charging,’’ meaning running the front end of your sled into another player.

Playing locally: Contact the DFW Sled Hockey program at

Staff Writer

Taylor Lipsett just wanted to be like all of the other kids.

It turned out, he’s much more.

Lipsett was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as brittle bone disease, and has had to deal with more than 100 broken bones in his life. He spent much of his youth in a body cast, and yearned just to go out and play catch with the neighborhood kids. Then, at age 15, he found the sport of sled hockey, and it eventually took him to heights he never imagined.

On Saturday, Lipsett and his teammates on the USA Sled Hockey team will play Russia for the gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Sochi. Lipsett will get the chance to win his second gold medal and possibly close out his career in international competition on a perfect note.

“It’s changed my life, it really has,’’ the Plano resident said before he took off for Sochi. “It’s been incredible for me.’’

Lipsett was just under two when he broke his collarbone falling off a chair, he said. That started a series of trips to the hospital that would eventually force his mom Cheryl to quit her job.

“I would get my leg twisted in the sheets when I was sleeping, and it would break,’’ Lipsett said. “I spent a lot of time in body casts.’’

He was officially diagnosed at age 5 with osteogenesis imperfecta. Still, he wanted to go outside, he wanted to be with his brother Aaron and the neighborhood kids.

“I think the thing that was best about my mom was that she knew how much I wanted to be out there, so she said OK,’’ Lipsett said. “People would ask her, `How can you do that?’ and she would ask them, `How can I not?’’’

The disease affected Lipsett’s legs mostly, and he had to use a wheelchair most of the time. But he said he found ways around that. He would sit on a skateboard and propel himself with his hands. Ironically, that’s exactly how you get around the ice in sled hockey.

“The process to sled hockey is pretty similar to what I did when I was a kid, so I was learning to play and I didn’t even know it,’’ he said.

Lipsett loved athletics and was a batboy for his brother’s baseball team, as well as an athletic trainer in high school, but he was able to become an athlete after a chance meeting in a grocery store at age 15. He was in his wheelchair when a relative of Paralympian Lonnie Hannah (of San Antonio) walked up and told him about the 2002 Paralympics and the gold medal that Team USA hockey won in Salt Lake City. Lipsett said he was intrigued.

“I found out about the games that were being played around here, and I went and watched,’’ he said. “I wasn’t going to go out there, I was just going to watch, but then they put me in a sled and pushed me out there.’’

Lipsett said that moment changed his life.

“It sounds cliché, but as soon as you hit the ice and start gliding, a whole new world opens up,’’ he said. “You really forget you have a disability, because you’re flying around out there. It’s life-changing, really.’’

Lipsett lived in Mesquite and a lot of practices were in North Richland Hills from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. He said once he learned that he could make the Paralympics, he had to commit himself to the game and practicing a lot.

“I could do stick handling at home, so I would work on that watching the Stars play or just watching any television show,’’ he said. “But then you had to hit the weight room and do two-a-days and really start pushing yourself.’’

As it is with any Olympian, Lipsett learned a lot about himself.

“It takes a lot of work, but it’s really rewarding,’’ he said. “And I have done things I never dreamed I would have done.’’

He traveled to Turin, Italy where the team won a bronze medal, and then went to Vancouver and won gold. This trip to Russia, he said, will probably be his last. Lipsett is one of the older players on the team at age 27, and younger, faster players have grabbed much of the playing time. But his goal-scoring brings memories of Dallas Stars 1999 Stanley Cup hockey. Like Brett Hull, he finds the places on the ice where nobody notices him.

“When people tell me I’m slow, I tell them I’m strategizing and thinking the game,’’ he said with a chuckle. “I think a lot of hockey is playing the game away from the puck. That’s where the battle is won.’’

Lipsett has been one of the team’s best stick handlers and leading scorers for years, and said he’s hoping for a nice finish in Sochi. But he’s also a portfolio manager for Bank of America U.S. Trust, and said that he is moving forward with his “real job.”

“I definitely want to finish my MBA, and think about starting a family,” said the SMU graduate, whose wife Kathleen and mom Cheryl have joined him in Sochi. “There is life outside of hockey, even though you wouldn’t believe it at times like this.”

That said, he knows that there will always be some hockey in his life. He helps run the DFW Sled Hockey Program out of the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Farmers Branch, and expects the exposure of the Paralympic Games on NBC Sports Network could help create new fans and participants.

“I’ve had parents of kids with osteogenesis imperfecta reach out to me, and I think it’s important to have someone they can talk to and relate to,’’ Lipsett said. “And just to have the exposure for Sled Hockey is great, because I didn’t even know about it until I was 15. So to have kids who are 4 or 5 who already know about it is great.

“Because, it really can change your life,’’ he added. “It changed mine.’’



Write a Reply or Comment:

Your email address will not be published.*