Sled Hockey Paralympian: Jack Wallace

Molly Bobik, Staff

The families of Greater Latrobe are far reaching and made up of many great stories. Melissa Boerio, a physical education teacher at Mountain View Elementary School and sixth grade camp coordinator, is the proud titleholder of one of these amazing tales. Lately, Boerio has had many moments to take pride in, as her second cousin, Jack Wallace, a sled hockey paralympian, has skated to victory.

Jack is the son of John Wallace, Boerio’s first cousin. He is grew up in Franklin Lakes, NJ, and has spent much of his life on the ice. Unfortunately, an unexpected accident changed the way he played the game. In the summer of 2008 when Jack was only ten, he was in a boating accident while water skiing. The incident left his right leg severely injured and it was eventually amputated up to his knee.

While the accident left Jack in a coma for three days and two months in the hospital, the injury did not leave him sidelined for long. By the next summer, Jack was back out on the ice. The recovery was not overnight though. The year following his accident, Jack spent much time in physical therapy. He began his recovery by learning how to walk on a prosthetic properly to build up his muscle. “To be able to walk on a prosthetic leg you need unbelievable core strength and balance,” said Jack. “So most of the physical therapy between summers were developing that.”

After Jack began to feel more confident and comfortable on his prosthetic, he turned his focus towards full time training for hockey. “Moving towards hockey was more developing my athletic prowess and strength to be a dominant player on the ice,” Jack said. His training included shooting pucks in his backyard and watching hockey film in order to develop a sense of the game.

As Jack continued his physical therapy, he knew he would have to attack hockey in a new way. While attending Camp No Limits, a camp for people dealing with limb loss, Jack found the solution to his predicament. It was at that camp that Jack first introduced to sled hockey.

Sled Hockey is very similar to regular hockey. The biggest difference is that the players sit in a sled with two blades on the bottom. Each player uses two sticks to move around the ice and shoot the puck. Jack, who was anxious to get back on the ice, took the idea in stride and joined his first sled hockey team, the Woodbridge Warriors of Woodbridge, NJ.

Jack persevered through his training as he pushed towards his dream of being one of the top players in the United States. He continued to climb up the ranks as a seven time attendee of the USA Hockey Sled Select Camp, a three season member of the U.S. Development Sled Hockey Team, and a player for the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. Jack capped off his success as he glided his way to gold with Team USA at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. He helped his team defeat Canada 2-1 in the final round after going into overtime. Jack said, “The experience was unbelievable, to be able to represent your country at such a high caliber and it was easily the best moment of my life.”

Jack has already achieved much success in his life. He claims that he owes his triumphs to a positive attitude, “When you set your mind on something, if you work hard enough, you can achieve it,” Jack said. He also added that an unending supply of support from his family and friends have played a huge role in his accomplishments. “My cousin’s family is loving, caring, fun and so supportive,” said Boerio. “It was incredible to watch him playing in the games. My heart was so full of happiness.”

With Jack only being 19, he will certainly be making many more big headlines in his future career.