Feb 17, 2013, 12:28 PM EDT
Today is Hockey Day in America, an all-day celebration of the sport throughout the United States. NBC will air nine hours of live coverage across its networks; here at PHT, we’re taking a look at stories of hockey’s impact across the country.
The nightmare scenario for any athlete in a contact sport is that in one instant, from one hit that goes bad, his or her life could change forever.
That worst-case scenario became a reality for Jack Jablonski when the then-16-year-old high school sophomore suffered spinal cord damage during a hockey game on Dec. 30, 2011.
“He dropped and didn’t move,” Jacks’ father, Mike Jablonski, said just days after the incident, according to the Star Tribune. “Right then and there I knew that my son, that there was something seriously wrong.”
Jablonski has faced plenty of adversity and a difficult recovery, but he hasn’t given up, and his determination to skate again has been inspirational to many, including his favorite football player, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
On the same day that the course of Jablonski’s life changed, Peterson was undergoing major knee surgery.
“He’s inspirational — way more significant than my situation,” Peterson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press in December.
“To have the condition he’s had and to be able to overcome it, slowly, but overcome it, it takes willpower. It’s the same thing I used, but even more so on a different level. When you look at that, it definitely makes you feel more positive.”
Peterson met Jablonski and told him to stay positive through the bad times. That must help, because that sense of inspiration runs both ways.
“He was telling me to stay in it and said, ‘You never know what could happen and anything is possible,'” Jablonski recalled to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
“I’ve lived by that since then because he’s easily the best running back in the league and worldwide known. I mean, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s dealt with a serious injury. He’s not just making it up.”
So while Peterson bounced back to win the 2012 NFL MVP award, Jablonski has been making progress of his own, regaining some movement and even activating some muscles in his lower body, according to the NHL.com.
Jablonski also hasn’t put the game he loves behind him. He’s serving as a student-assistant coach in for his high school team and has ambitions to becoming a broadcaster or coach.
“Jack has a real good eye for the game. Before the injury, he was a terrific player. Guys who are really good players see things that other people don’t see,” his team’s coach, Ken Pauly said.
“Since his injury, he can just focus on those things like a laser beam. Jack is very much a part of our family and our team. I like valuable and talented people and Jack brings that.”
At the same time, he’s inspired the BEL13VE in Miracles foundation, which is dedicated to advancing the treatment of spinal cord injuries and one day finding a cure. The example he’s set has also helped raise over $50,000 for ABLE program scholarships, which is under the umbrella of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network.
“What Jack has been able to because of this program is amazing,” his mother, Leslie Jablonski said. “2013 is going to be Jack’s year. We all believe it.”
That’s a sentiment her son still shares more than 14 months after the hit.
“I can’t improve if I don’t try,” Jack Jablonski said. “What if something amazing happens today?”
Sep 14, 2014, 10:56 PM EDT
The Hall of Famer has been tasked with aiding bench boss Ted Nolan in Buffalo’s difficult rebuild.
Sep 14, 2014, 9:44 PM EDT
But who and when?
Sep 14, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
He might not miss two months as initially feared.
Sep 14, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT
Training camp will “absolutely” have a different mood to it.
Sep 14, 2014, 6:01 PM EDT
The Flyers have high hopes for the young defenseman.
Sep 14, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT
He looked like a serious Hart Trophy candidate in the first half of 2013-14.
Sep 14, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
But can he contribute at the NHL level?
Sep 14, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT
Was rumored to be heading out of Buffalo at NHL Draft.
Sep 14, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT
Ryan McDonagh likely choice to wear ‘C’.
Sep 14, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Calgary’s prospects show hope for the future in southern Alberta.
Sep 14, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Opportunities available for prospects Boone Jenner and Alexander Wennberg.
Sep 14, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT
That’s him, wearing No. 74 for the Oilers, during a pre-season game last year.
Sep 13, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Or he may only be out for two weeks.
Sep 13, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
Report: He will have it checked out in Dallas.
Sep 13, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Philly bought out the high-priced goalie in the summer of 2013.
Sep 13, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
He was taken fourth overall in June’s NHL Draft.
Sep 13, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
He re-signed with the Habs this summer. Eight years, $72 million.
Sep 13, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
That’s terrific news.
Sep 13, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
He won’t play Saturday evening.
Sep 13, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
The 23-year-old defenseman is prepared to miss camp if a deal isn’t reached.
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