Army Veteran Goes One More Round with USA Paralympic Sled Hockey Team
When he joined a military sled hockey team, Rico Roman was looking for the same feeling he had while serving in the U.S. Army as a staff sergeant. He found it at a hockey rink in San Antonio, Texas. A Purple Heart recipient, he lost his leg in a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007.
“I left my prosthetic leg in the (hockey) locker room, and when I came back, someone had put trash in it,” said Roman, in a People.com article. “That’s when I was like, “I need to be here. This is where I need to be.”
Roman, who is a Team Toyota Paralympian, has become a staple on the U.S. sled hockey team. The 41-year-old Portland, Oregon native has been a three-time Paralympian in 2014, 2018, and 2022, winning two gold medals. A center-forward, Roman lends his experience to the team at the Beijing Olympics.
“Rico made himself into a force in sled hockey with his determination and dedication to the team,” said Alan Hubbard, NTI’s Chief Operating Officer. “From his services to his country and now to the USA team, he has been someone others look up to wanting to be Paralympians.” For more than 25 years, NTI has helped individuals with disabilities, including veterans, find remote work opportunities with free job training and placement assistance. To register, go to www.ntiathome.org. “We are proud to help our veterans find opportunities in the workforce,” added Hubbard.
When he isn’t working out or playing for Team USA, Roman works with Operation Comfort in San Antonio, a group that helped him in his rehab, dealing with helping wounded veterans have new experiences.
“Being able to give back is the biggest thing for me,” said Roman. “I’ve been so lucky to be able to help out. I go show off my medals and hopefully inspire the next generation of athletes to go and compete.”
“Operation Comfort and the Paralympics have given me this platform. I hope we can inspire the future Paralympians out there to chase after their dreams of winning gold and just change how society looks at people with disabilities. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
“Without Operation Comfort, I would have never found the sport. They do so much for us veterans. They don’t have a big billboard or do commercials or anything like that, but they’re there when guys are hurt, are in bed or rehabbing, and make sure that they have what they need."
“We at NTI appreciate Operation Comfort’s effort to help our veterans who have been injured in service to our country,” said Hubbard. “Our veterans, who have given so much to us, need any assistance we can provide.”
After the 2018 Games in South Korea, it was expected that Roman would step aside from Team USA. He even told his family it was over for him, but the lore of the competition kept him going for another four years of training and preparing for the Paralympics.
“Finding the sport really gave me an outlet,” said Roman to People.com “I didn’t think about my injury when I was out on the ice. And I still don’t. I really feel just, like, free at the moment, enjoying the sport and spending time with my teammates.”
(NTI, a nonprofit organization, has been helping Americans with disabilities, find at-home remote work opportunities, with free job placements services and training. For more information, go to www.ntiathome.org.)
“I left my prosthetic leg in the (hockey) locker room, and when I came back, someone had put trash in it. That’s when I was like, “I need to be here. This is where I need to be...”