From Jan. 2013 to Feb. 2014, the 14 months leading up to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, "14 for 14" will profile 14 athletes who hope to make the U.S. team for the Games. Visit USParalympics.org on the 14th of each month for the latest "14 for 14".
My name is Andy Yohe. After helping Team USA to gold medals at the Torino 2006 and Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, I took a few seasons off from sled hockey. I made a return to the sport this year and was just recently named to Team USA for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
I've always been into hockey. Until 1994, when I was run over while trying to jump on a train, I was a roller hockey player for the Bettendorf (Iowa) Young Guns. I was away from the sport for a while but I got back into hockey in 2003 when I joined the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) Blackhawks. Sled hockey has been my passion ever since.
Here are 14 things you should know about me as I strive towards Sochi:
1. The best year of my life was 2010.
My first child was born, I won a gold medal in Vancouver and the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Trifecta!
2. Do you remember when?
The best experiences from my sled hockey career are my first Opening Ceremony at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games and the game against Norway when I was able to score the only goal of the game with 11 seconds left to win a world championship for my team in 2009. I am thankful to the Lambert family and all those responsible for the Quad City Sled Hockey Association are responsible for introducing myself and Kevin McKee, a great U.S. teammate, to sled hockey so we can experience moments of a lifetime. Thanks for all of your time and energy.
3. My wife is the team behind the team.
Thank you, Katie. Without my wife’s support I would not be able to compete in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games so I have to show her some love in writing. We have been together for almost 10 years. Sochi 2014 will be the third Games we get to experience and the second Games she is pregnant while I'm training. In December, we will welcome a new Yohe.
4. I love to be outside.
I love to play golf, hand cycle, and be on or in the water with whatever floats. Some of my best nights have been spent roasting s’mores around a bonfire with my friends, and it is a tradition I am looking forward to sharing with my kids when they get older.
5. I played wheelchair basketball before hockey.
I played in the junior wheelchair basketball national championship game in 1996 with the Rolling Rebels, and we got 2nd place. Our men’s team, the Rockford Chariots, made it to the final four in 2003 and we got 3rd.
6. I believe I have overactive taste buds.
It’s true. I really love so many different kinds of food and truly enjoy eating. I will try pretty much anything you can offer up! So far the strangest thing I have eaten were fried crickets in Japan.
7. I have an awesome family.
My parents, grandparents, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws are all so amazing and I am lucky to have them. I have 10 cousins that are all around my age and some of my best childhood memories are with them; now that we are older it has been quite an experience getting together with our own kids!
8. I have worked at one company for 18 years.
I went in to have some new legs built and they just couldn't get me to leave. The owners have always been very supportive of my athletic goals. Thank you Miller Meier Limb and Brace.
9. Go Bears! Go Hawkeyes! Go Blackhawks!
I love watching all football and hockey, but I try to never miss the Iowa Hawkeyes, Chicago Bears and Blackhawks games.
10. I love to get hit as much as I like to hit.
Getting hit in a hockey game just makes me want to play that much harder. The physical aspect of the game and separating the person from the puck is what really draws me to sled hockey.
11. Hockey locker rooms.
This may be the worst smelling place on earth, but it is where many of my best memories are from my hockey career. There is no place on earth like a hockey locker room. You have to play the game and experience it with your teammates to understand.
12. Old Man Yohe?
I do not feel old, but I really feel like it when I say that two of my teammates were born after I graduated from high school.
13. Team Yohe is going to Sochi.
Everyone that has been to a recent U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team game knows that Russia is in for a real surprise when my friends and family come to watch. Dangerous! At least 20 family members and friends have made it to each of the last two Paralympic Games, and knowing they were cheering in the stands just made me want to play harder and make them proud.
14. I want something new.
I love to try new things in life, and that includes traveling to new places trying new foods and trying out different activities. You don’t know if you like something until you've tried it. Being a part of the U.S. National Sled Hockey team has made it possible for me to experience so many amazing things in so many places.