As the United States national women’s ice sledge hockey team prepares for the 2015-16 season, one of the inspiring players on their roster includes Monica Quimby. Hailing from Turner, Maine, Quimby is equally accomplished in the classroom. Having attended the University of New Hampshire, she would become an adjunct professor at the age of 23.
Despite being in a wheelchair, the result of an injury during a skiing accident that resulted in paralysis from the waist down, she has not let serve as an instrument for self-pity. Instead, it has propelled her into a memorable journey where sport and enthusiasm intersect, resulting in a series of events that have provided great vigor and joy.
One of the elements that makes Quimby such an admirable individual is her zest for life. From her work as a scientist, where she studied studied molecular, cellular and developmental biology, inspiring others as a motivational speaker, to serving as a board member for Alpha One (an independent living center in Maine) and appearing at the 2013 Boston Abilities Expo, it is part of an impressive body of work that has included recognition with the Forty Under 40 Award by Maine Today Media.
Akin to so many women that compete in ice sledge hockey, Quimby is equally talented in other sports. Having also competed in Paracanoe since 2013, her love of sport knows no bounds. As a side note, Canadian national team member Christine Gauthier has qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Summer Games in Paracanoe, the first time that the sport shall be contested at the Paralympics. Coincidentally, the two have also competed against each other in paracanoe events.
“I have always been athletic and very involved with sports from a young age, with a love for adrenaline both before and after my accident. I have also done a lot from bungee jumping in British Columbia (in my wheelchair) to competing in the 2014 Lake Placid International Regatta for paracanoe in both V-1 and K-1, taking the silver in V-1.
I started cross training for paracanoe with sledge hockey at the end of 2013 with the Florida Sled Bandits, I was instantly hooked. Sledge hockey is now my main sport and I currently play for 3 teams.”
Although the US team presents a new chapter in her ice sledge hockey career, Quimby is gracious in recognizing the individuals who helped her along the way, moulding and shaping her into the elite competitor that she is today. In reflecting on the path taken, an immense feeling of pride emanates when discussing the Florida sledge hockey program.
Considering that the Sunshine State is revered as a football hotbed, it would not come to mind as a market where ice sledge hockey could flourish. Through the collaborative efforts of volunteers, coaches and players, the result is one where positive dividends have been yielded. Including Quimby’s dedication to networking for sponsors that could supply gear and funding for travel and events, it helped raise an empowering awareness. From friendships forged, to stronger self-esteem, the impact of the Florida Sled Bandits represents one of the feel-good aspects in Quimby’s promising ice sledge hockey career,
“I feel immense gratitude for everyone who has been and still is a part of this journey from the Florida and USA teams, to my family and friends. My Florida sled(ge) hockey coach, Ron Robichaud, he has been very influential and paramount in my development in this sport from the beginning. The Florida sled(ge) hockey program provided me with opportunities, ice time and equipment. I would not be on the USA Women’s Sledge Hockey team without the support of this incredible non-profit program.”
Among her great sporting endeavors, the chance to don the US jersey may be the most cherished. Elevating her game to a world-class level, Quimby is part of a defensive corps that is led by US captain Erica Mitchell. As the team is a group of women united from all corners of the country, they are determined to maintain the status of the US team among the world’s finest. For Quimby, this career milestone only serves to motivate her into an even better player.
“As an athlete, it is the ultimate accomplishment. I get to play with and for the elite, which challenges me every day. I love being on the USA Women’s Sledge Hockey team.
We are from all over the country and we come together to play as one unit, with one purpose. I am so proud to represent the colors of the United States with my fellow teammates; it is truly an empowering experience.”
In addition to a remarkable sporting career, Quimby has also managed to inspire in another remarkable method. Back in 2011, she was recognized as Ms. Wheelchair Maine and would follow it up as third runner-up at Ms. Wheelchair America. Part of Quimby’s growing legacy as an athlete and role model, her platform allowed her to raise awareness for disabled people who were passionate to create change.
Following this empowering victory, Quimby became a co-founder of the Ms. Wheelchair Maine Leadership and Advocacy Organization. Among its objectives, it looks to highlight accomplishments and provide positive awareness about the disabled and their ability to make great contributions to society. Through scholarships, sports and collaborative efforts, it represents one of Quimby’s great passions, eradicating barriers between the disabled and non-disabled communities, generating a newfound understanding and greater sense of respect.
“I am very proud of expanding the legacy of Ms. Wheelchair Maine in my newest adventure, being on the USA Women’s Sledge Hockey team. As an athlete with a physical disability, I will continue to strive by educating others with and without disabilities about leadership, achievement, advocacy and sports.
I feel it is essential to give back, which I am able to do by volunteering my time to help out developing players and I also have a small public speaking business to help fund my training.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images supplied by Monica Quimby, Miss Wheelchair Maine image obtained from: http://www.mswheelchairmaine.org/titleholders/
For more information on Ms. Wheelchair Maine, please visit: mswheelchairmaine.org