Connor Hogan poses for a portrait during the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing media day on Nov. 12, 2021 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
When para alpine skier Connor Hogan was only 18 months old, his mom knew something was different about him.
“At my 18-month check-up, my mom was concerned that I wasn’t crawling yet — I was rolling around the house,” the 24-year-old remembered. After an appointment at a children’s hospital, Hogan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which resulted in the right side of his body not having full range of motion — something caused by an in utero stroke.
Growing up in Massachusetts with two ski instructors as parents, the 2018 Paralympian said he didn’t grow up around adaptive sports. “I learned how to ski in an able-bodied setting. I didn’t know adaptive sports until I was older,” he recalled about his early days on snow.
By the time Hogan was seven, he had started ski racing, and by 12, he was competing on the international circuit — against all able-bodied racers.
“I was never really expecting much,” he confessed. “I was just having fun with the sport.”
Trying new sports was something he had been doing for years. “I tried baseball. I tried soccer. I ran track in high school. But I was never as good at them as skiing,” Hogan said.
“The thing about skiing was, I felt like a normal kid. It was the one place that if you didn’t know I had a disability, you wouldn’t have known.”
Off the snow, though, that wasn’t the case.
“During the school week, I was bullied and made fun of for being different,” said Hogan.
Like most kids, all he wanted was to fit in. So much so that it inspired him to want to try another dangerous sport: football.
In Foxborough, the town in Massachusetts where he grew up, the NFL team of choice was the New England Patriots. And all any kid wanted to do was to play football, like everyone’s favorite player, Tom Brady. Every time the peewee football slip would come home from school, Hogan would ask his mom and dad, “Can I play football this year?” But every year, he would get the same answer.
“My parents would always say, I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he shared. “It would be the saddest day of the year — every year.”
After finding a love for ski racing, Hogan eventually stopped asking. “Finally, finding a sport that fit me as a person and fit my love for the outdoors — that is how I got into skiing.”