Andy Yohe, Paralympic sled hockey player, always envisioned himself as an Olympian. Therefore, he refused to let a train accident, which cost him his legs, keep him from doing so.
Yohe has always been an athlete. A hockey fanatic, he played for the Bettendorf Young Guns roller hockey team. At 16, he was run over by a train, and had both of his legs amputated.
Still eager to be involved in sports, he began playing wheelchair basketball, driving two hours to play with the Rockford Chariots. Yohe and the team finished second in the country in 2002.
Itching to do more in the world of sports, the athlete searched for other ways to be involved with his passion during the wheelchair basketball offseason. Yohe came across sled hockey and has been playing since 2002.
Yohe joined the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Blackhawks where he set the club's record for most points in a season by a rookie in 2003.
Since then, he has slowly advanced his career as a sled hockey player. In 2006, he competed with Team USA in the 2006 Torino Paralympic Winter Games, where he helped bring home the bronze medal.
When Yohe recalls his favorite memory as a Paralympian, he recalls scoring the game-winning goal in the last 11 seconds of the 2009 World Championships, earning the U.S. team their first ever gold medal.
"That was not only my best feeling as a Paralympic athlete, but probably the best feeling I've ever had," said Yohe who served as the team captain during the World Championships in the game against Norway.
The Vancouver hopeful hopes to repeat such success and relive that feeling in the 2010 Winter Games.
Yohe said being called a Paralympian means representing his country and himself to the best of his ability. The ultimate goal, he said, is to bring home the gold medal, which explains why he made the move from his home in Bettendorf, Iowa to Rochester, N.Y. last February.
"I moved...in order to get more ice time with quality players," Yohe said.
Yohe will be on the ice three to five days a week and in the gym two to three days a week.
"I will also be riding my handcycle for cardio as long as Mother Nature permits," he said.
The life-long athlete has been taken from Bettendorf to Rochester, to Torino and hopefully Vancouver. It's no surprise sports have taken him so far; his teammates, both former and current, describe him as an athlete, regardless of what sport he is playing.
The key, the sled hockey player has told several publications, is being adaptable and staying positive, despite whatever happens. With luck, that will get Yohe to Vancouver in 2010.