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Going for Gold: Rod Crane's Path to The Paralympics

four men in red Team Canada uniforms are on the ice playing sledge hockey
Rod Crane (#2) hopes to complete the long drive, filled with twists and turns, to reach his goals of representing Canada at the Paralympics.

The path to success is not linear. The path will shift, you will change, and your wants will evolve with your needs. Sometimes, it can feel like you’re standing still. Other times, it can feel like an endless journey. We fear looking back, wanting to leave everything behind us as we go.

To fully appreciate how far you’ve come, you need to look back. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the future is uncertain and not always in our control. You have two options: to fear it or to embrace it.

For Rod Crane, a member of Team Canada’s sledge hockey team, a chance accident in 2010 changed his life completely. A backflip on a trampoline caused a spinal cord injury, resulting in incomplete paraplegia. His path changed, and Rod adapted, leading him to reach new heights.

Before his accident, Crane wanted to go to post-secondary school and work a 9-5. Though he was active and a sports fan growing up, being an athlete was never his goal. After his injury, he realized quickly that, from there on out, his life would be different from the traditional life he envisioned.

“It was the most alone I’ve ever felt.” Said Crane, reminiscing on the time after his accident. “I was feeling isolated because [at the time] I was the only one going through that.”

When he came home from his rehabilitation, his friends and family hosted a welcoming party. Despite being surrounded by people who cared about him, Crane recalls feeling miserable. His mindset wasn’t in a good place, and he felt like all he was getting was sympathy from those around him.

It was during his rehabilitation stint that he discovered sledge hockey. A recreational therapist told him there were still ways for him to participate in the activities he enjoyed, like hockey and skiing. After graduating college, Rod joined the Elmvale Bears sledge hockey team.

Crane was skiing in British Columbia when he got the call to join Team Canada’s development team. By that point, Rod was already playing on the provincial team. After ten minutes of thinking, he said yes and joined the team in Montreal, Quebec.

Like many sports, sledge hockey has a huge mental component.

“Hockey is a game full of mistakes,” said Crane, “you have to accept that one shift could go terribly wrong, but the next shift you could be the hero of the game. If you’re worried about making a mistake, your competitors will pick up on that and take advantage.”

For Crane and his teammates, mental wellness is just as important as physical wellness. His teammates are very supportive of each other; sharing similar experiences and goals. As a team, they practice deep breathing, visualization, and positive self-talk. They have a sticker on their bench that simply says “breathe”, a reminder after each shift to take a moment to collect yourself. When they come off the ice, whether after a good shift or a bad one, they make sure that they aren’t feeling too high or too low.

After being told by specialists that he would get back as much as he put into rehabilitating his injury, Crane credits sledge hockey for helping him push forward physically and mentally.

“I think competition is good for everybody, “ said Crane, “it really lets you look inside yourself and see, can I do more? Is this all I can take or can I keep pushing through things?”

Rod Crane’s life changed in ways he could never have imagined. Crane has been a member of Team Canada for four years now. He has travelled across the world playing a sport he loves with teammates he admires. Crane has a strong community supporting him, including his family, friends, and fiancee, Laura. He also volunteers as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters. His life is sparkling silver, but he’s got his eyes set on gold.

Though Crane is focused on winning a gold medal at the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing, China, he believes it is important to celebrate all the wins and goals that get him closer to his dreams.

“It’s a big climb and a big grind to get there,” said Crane, “You have to celebrate that. It’s the little victories that will get you the big victory at the end of the day”.

At Botree, we are inspired by Rod Crane and his commitment to his new path. Rod faced changes that shifted his goals, and he is now reaching new heights he didn’t believe possible 10 years ago.

As your business moves forward, it is essential to look back on the steps that got you to where you are. What has changed? What parts of your journey did you have to show more strength and determination more than others? Most importantly, how did you celebrate each of those little milestones that got you where you are today? Though your path may have shifted, we encourage you to find the best path possible to reach the top.

We wish Rod Crane, and Team Canada, the best of luck in going for gold.



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