South Hadley native to represent U.S. in Paralympic games | News
HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — A South Hadley native is getting ready to head to Beijing to represent the United States in the Paralympic Games.
“It’s a pretty cool thing to be representing western Mass. in a special way, for sure,” said Kyle Zych.
Zych is a 25-year-old South Hadley native who grew up playing baseball. He never dreamed he would be one of the 17 players representing the United States in the 2022 Winter Paralympics.
“The idea of adaptive sports or disabled sports, I didn’t like that and then I finally gave it a shot and instantly fell on love with it, Zych explained.
Zych was born with spina bifida, a condition that cut his baseball career short and left him with some difficult hurdles to overcome.
“It was mostly running, it became too much for me. It was really tough to make the decision. Well, I didn’t make the decision, but to realize I couldn’t play baseball anymore…I had known about sled hockey for a number of years before I tried it, but it didn’t interest me at all,” Zych added.
Zych told Western Mass News that he began his sled hockey career in Springfield back in 2012 and quickly exceled and made it to the national level in 2018. However, during that year, he faced a pivotal moment in his journey to the games.
“After my first national team season, I got cut because I wasn’t taking my training very seriously and that’s when I turned things around and really made it a full-time commitment,” Zych noted.
Zych said his teammates and their shared love of the game is what led him to this major accomplishment.
“It just means everything. All the sacrifice that we give up to go over there with each other to play for gold is just super special,” Zych said.
Zych leaves for Beijing on Sunday, but before he heads to the winter games, his family and friends are inviting community members to come down for a send-off parade beginning at the Sullivan School in Holyoke on Saturday morning.
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