MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — “Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable and challenge your own boundaries.”
This is the motto of the 37-year-old Canadian ice sledge hockey and wheelchair basketball player, Billy Bridges. He was born in Summerside of Prince County, Prince Edward Island in Canada, with spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal cord does not form properly.
Living with the effects of spina bifida, Bridges’ limited mobility meant he has to use crutches and at times a wheelchair, but that has not stopped him from gaining international notoriety as a powerful hockey player.
At the age of 12, Bridges started his ice sledge hockey career for the Kitchener Sidewinders. When he was 14, he got selected for the Canadian national team. He became the youngest player to have been picked. Bridges secured golds from World Championships in the years 2000, 2008, 2013, and 2017, and Paralympic gold from the year 2006. That year, he got picked for the All-Star Team.
Along with his ice sledge hockey, he began a career in wheelchair basketball. He has seven Canadian titles with Team Ontario. Bridges competed at the Junior World Championships in 2001, and in 2005, he got selected as the team’s MVP.
Billy Bridges is a spokesperson for the Right to Play organization which promotes a healthier and safer world for children through the power of sport and play. He has been awarded the Royal Honour of Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002.
Canadian head coach Ken Babey is Billy’s coach, and he is proud of his athlete and said, “I’m impressed with Billy’s approach to the game in terms of his teammanship. He’s working very hard at both ends of the ice and is taking all our major faceoffs. He’s just doing an excellent job leading this team. Billy Bridges is taking Canada to the world sledge.”
His inspiration is Washington Capitals’ left-winger, Alexander Ovechkin, but Billy has often said that his role model is his dad, Charles.
Apart from his career, Bridges has established himself as a musician and has released his own CD.
Bridges is married to the three-time Canadian ice hockey Olympian goalie Sami Jo Small, and they were wed in 2011. She played ice hockey at the international level as a goaltender.
Billy is presently a student at the University of Toronto where he is pursuing a degree in English literature. He lives with his daughter Kensi and wife in Mississauga.
In one of his Instagram posts, he says, “From the Bow River to Beijing 2022. The journey starts now. Extremely honored to be selected for my 23rd season. So proud of all of these guys.”
It shows how excited he is to play in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing.
In a pinned tweet, he says, “So extremely proud to announced that I have joined #TeamToyota!! I am so honored to have the support of @ToyotaCanada on my journey to my sixth Paralympic Games in Beijing next year! #ToyotaPartner”
To honor him, a park was constructed in his name in his hometown of Summerside in 2018. The park is located between Notre Dame, Park, and Duke Streets and was renamed Billy Bridges Park. It has a new boundless playground structure and sensory activities, as well as paved paths throughout the park. This helps anyone with a wheelchair or special needs to access the park and join in the fun with their peers on the playground.
He has an official page: https://www.billybridges.com/ where he keeps his fans and the rest of the world updated on him and his team.
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