SPORTS BABE OF THE DAY PRESENTS: Kevin Rempel, Team Canada Men’s Sledge Hockey, Paralympian Bronze Medalist, @kevinrempel on Twitter.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Kevin Rempel? An inspiration, a walking miracle, a determined young man. At the age of 31, a Team Canada athlete and medalist, Kevin’s story is one you need to sit down and hear.
To look at him now you wouldn’t know without asking, about the Paralympian’s tough past, and just how much he’s had to push through life to get where he is now.
They say life can throw you curve balls when you least expect them, and in Kevin’s life that can be viewed as an understatement looking from the outside in.
In 2002, Kevin went deer hunting with his dad Gerry, the first year he had ever gone. The first curve ball life decided to toss his way. While building a tree stand, Gerry fell two stories to the ground. Fracturing his back and being left a paraplegic.
Needing an escape from all that just happened, Kevin turned to his passion – dirtbiking. Gerry urged Kevin not to continue, in fear his son too would end living the life that he now had to face. Despite his dads wishes Kevin continued to chase his dreams of going pro and performing in front an audience.
On July 1st, 2006 Kevin finally reached that goal and suddenly life decided to throw another curve ball his way. Two weeks later at Rock the Wake in Haliburton, Ontario, Kevin’s dreams came crashing down.
Falling from a height of nearly 30 feet, with a distance of 80 feet, Kevin sadly came down without the bike. After that crash, Kevin was now a paraplegic, making his dads worst fears come true.
Kevin was told he would likely never walk again. Life had yet another twisted way of throwing a curve ball in his direction.
He was determined though to break those limitations doctors were so quick to set on him. Motivated by not only those he had seen make recoveries, but by his own father. He didn’t want to accept the life of being deemed to a wheelchair like his dad so easily did, and with that began the intense physical therapy as Kevin told everyone he would one day walk again.
With his positive attitude, and determination, in just one year Kevin was walking again. And exactly one year to the day and almost to the hour, Kevin threw a party in the sand pits at Raglans in Oshawa and was back on his bike!
Kevin’s life was starting to look up, though things at home kept getting worse and around the same time Kevin began walking again, his mother Shirley left his dad, when his gambling addiction, and outlook on life became too hard to handle.
And at age 54, Gerry ended his life. Yet another curve ball life decided to throw Kevin’s way. After that Kevin had his bad days, but when it came down to it he didn’t want to live that life.
In 2008 after a friend introduced him to the world of Sledge Hockey, Kevin had a new passion. Playing for the Niagara Thunderblades, he was very quick to learn the game and was even quicker to set new goals for himself. Getting the attention of coaches at Sledge Ontario, Kevin continued his climb to the very top of the national Sledge Hockey ranks! And within two years, a man who once knew nothing of the sport, had his name on The Team Canada Roster!
Since being apart of the team, Kevin has helped to earn a Bronze medal, two Silvers and five Golds! Winning the World Championships in Goyang, South Korea in 2013 and most recently earning the Bronze in Sochi, Russia 2014!
To say Kevin has had his fair share of curve balls, is an understatement. To say he is a walking inspiration to how people should live their lives everyday, is also an understatement. At the young age of 31, Kevin still has tons of goals and plans for himself in the future and has no intentions of slowing down.
With hopes of getting into para-snowboarding, wanting to get back into dirt biking. It seems no matter what curveballs life decides to throw his way there is nothing that will stop him from achieving what he sets out to do in life. And I know for a fact this isn’t the last time you will hear about Kevin Rempel and his amazing story.
“The biggest lesson I want people to take from story, is to not give up.” he says.
This amazing bronze medal Paralympian was kind enough to sit down, tell me his amazing story and give us an interview.!
21 QUESTIONS WITH KEVIN REMPEL
1. if you weren’t playing sledge hockey what sport would you be doing?
Right now I’d love to try Paralympic snowboarding, or be back in motocross.
2. Growing up, did you have a role model or someone you aspired to be?
Freestyle Motocross rider, Mike Metzger.
3. Is there any quote, motto or core truth you try to live by everyday?
It’s a long one, but resonates the most with me.
“Success is not to be measured by the position that one has reached in life, but as by obstacles which one has had to overcome while trying to succeed.”- Booker T. Washington
Get help. Whether it be calling someone and asking to come over and talk or direct you where you need to do, what you’re doing wrong.
For me it was reading books. There is enough people in the world that have been where you’ve been that you can find a way out.
5. You’re on a deserted island, what are 5 things you would want with you?
Everything I want to requires something else with it. I would want my bike, gas for my bike, food, cellphone, and a boat.
6. Is there any stereotypes about Paralympians that drive you absolutely crazy?
Not that it drives me crazy, but it’s great to surprise people when they see that we can play our sports as hard as able bodied people do.
In the sport of sledge hockey I am proud of our sport being fast paced, hard hitting, full contact. We have set plays, execute hard passes tape to tape, and even do line changes on the fly. It’s a pretty sick sport!
7. If i looked in your fridge right now what would i find?
Glutten free bread, water, asparagus, almond milk.
8. Single, dating or locked down?
9. With all the obstacles you’ve had to face, how do you stay so positive?
I just try my best to focus on what I do have and not what I don’t have. It’s easier said than done. I try to emphasize to people that I really do struggle with things still to this day. I get down easily, but I think I am resilient in not staying down very long.
I hate feeling sad. I hate giving up. I want to do it often, but seriously, you have one life to make it. I want to make it. I want my life to be kick ass! I want to look back on my life and never regret taking chances. I’ve seen too many people lay back and take it easy, and that’s not the road to take if you want to achieve anything outstanding in life.
I took in the environment, the sounds, and the people. I also thought of dad a little bit. It didn’t matter to me that it wasn’t gold, it was the fact that we had placed in the Paralympics.
I remember being bummed for winning a bronze medal as a kid. I do wish it had been a gold. But let me tell you, for being an Olympic athlete, you can ask so many people that just having a medal “period” is a pretty awesome achievement in life.
11.How do you spend your off season?
I ride my Harley a lot. Sometimes I get out golfing. I try to work on my house. I also spend a lot of time working out as that is a big part of my life.
12. What are your goals, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Possibly back with sledge hockey. Maybe try the snowboarding route. Adaptive Moto-x would be awesome. I also see myself married and with a few kids if everything works out.
13. Almost every guy in hockey has a pregame routine what is yours and what is your go-to pregame meal?
I don’t have a pre game routine like putting my left pad on first or anything. I guess you could say I put on my lower equipment first, then do my stretches and warm up before putting on my upper gear.
My go to meal would be chicken, mixed vegetables, and sweet potatoes.
14. Is there any specific person that has impacted your career or life?
My friend David Izer. He basically stepped in and helped become a role model/father figure for me when stuff started to go down with my dad being hurt. Then after my dad passed away he was still there and gave me a lot of great advice to help me through the bad times.
15.What is your biggest accomplishment in life and hockey?
Man, walking again would be a big one. That was tough. lol
In hockey it would be making it to the Paralympics and this bronze medal. I’m pretty stoked on that.
16.Not all athletes are class acts, with that being said, how do you conduct yourself on and off the ice? Do you consider yourself a role model?
I never thought I’d be a role model to kids. Once I figured out how much I am I just tried to think about the people I’ve looked up to and how they treated me. You remember the ones who had an attitude about it all and were rude to you. I want to be remembered as a genuine guy who was awesome to meet.
17.What is one of your most embarrassing hockey related moments?
I’ve missed the bus a few times. Once was at try outs!
I’ve gotten strapped into my sled without my gloves or sticks. Even a helmet. Then you just get out of your sled like you’re doing something else and hope no one notices.
Being with my bike. Whether it be on my bike, in the garage working on my bike, just being around my bike. And lately the song “Happy” by Pharrel Williams.
19. How did you first get in sledge hockey?
I was helping out with Brock Penguins wheelchair basketball, when someone mentioned about sledge hockey. I had played hockey recreationally before my accident, so I knew the game, and the minute I got in the sled I knew it was what I wanted to do. It took some time to get use to the feel of it, but I knew then this was where I wanted to be.
20. How do you want to be remembered?
Just as a genuine guy who cared a lot about the people around him, who always gave his best and loves life.
21.Who should our next SBOTD be?
Michelle Salt-Paralympic Snowboarder