“Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.”~George Burns
Well this wasn’t expected but here it is.
I’ve literally been surprised by with the news that Team USA Sledge Hockey’s Taylor Lipsett and team captain Andy Yohe have announced their retirement from the sport.
Over the last four Paralympic Games, Team USA has captured the gold medal three times. Andy Yohe being team captain in 2014 and in 2010. Back to back gold medal victories for Team USA.
It appeared as if Team USA had constructed a dynasty in sledge hockey with so many gold medals won whether at the World Championships or at the Winter Paralympic Games.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would hear about them leaving the sport NOW. Yeah sure, maybe ten or fifteen years, but I never thought it would be now. I am actually stunned right now as I write this.
Via Facebook, both Lipsett and Yohe made their statements on the situation as well as shared with them the online web article announcing their departure from the sport.
Andy Yohe said “Time to pass the torch on to the younger generation of sled hockey players in the US. I know the team is in good hands.”
Taylor Lipsett left a statement saying “Well I suppose it’s time to make it official… I have decided to officially hang up the sled and call it a career. It’s be an amazing 10 year ride, with ups and downs, but fortunately for me I was blessed with more ups than downs, and blessed with amazing teammates, many of which I know will be life long friends. I never dreamed of being able to represent my country when I was growing up until that divine intervention on a Sunday afternoon at the grocery store with Cheryl Lipsett! The last 10 years have been the most amazing years of my life both on and off the ice, but it is time to start a new chapter and focus on my family and my professional career. It will always be an honor to have been so fortunate to wear the red, white, and blue and the USA across my chest for so many years! And to have won a couple world championship gold medals and 2 Paralympic Gold Medals to top it all off! Thank you to USA Hockey, US Paralympics, all of my teammates over the years, my friends and family, and most important my Wife, Antonina Lipsett, who has sacrificed so much over the last 10 years to allow me to pursue my dreams! Thanks so much, and know I will always be cheering on Team USA!”
I never really did get much of a chance to sit down with Taylor Lipsett, since he is only a few hours away. But I have met him a couple of times before. I’ve shook his hand multiple times and spoke briefly but not as much as I would have liked. I had always wanted to sit down with him and talk about what it was like to be on the national team as well as what it took to get there.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet Andy Yohe both on and off the ice in Houston, Texas. I played along side of him as sides were chosen and he was the best influential player there for both Austin and Houston teams. After the one time playing on the ice with him, everyone else who was in a sled was totally inspired. I remember some players attempting to copy his style of play, wanting to be a better player.
Man to man, player to player, I can say to both of them….. Thank you for all that you have done. Thank you for representing this great country. Thank you for inspiring countless people both disabled and AB’s. Thank you for wonderful talents that you have given to the sport.
The sport will not be the same without either of you two on the ice. But we will cherish the memories of those times that you were. The both of you are ice warriors and will be immortalized by the sport that you played in the hearts and minds of colleagues, friends, family, and supporters. We wish both of you the best in your new journey.
Thank you Andy and Taylor.