Trevor Hirschfield has finally done it. After losing gold medal games at the 2012 London Paralympics and 2014 International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) world championships, Hirschfield scored seven goals en route to winning wheelchair rugby gold in his Parapan Am Games debut.
“We practice six days a week, several times a day. It’s a big commitment and we’ve dedicated our lives to it. When we are committed to our sport, it shows on the floor,” he said.
It wasn’t easy though, as team USA was ready to do whatever it took to win the gold. Led by arguably wheelchair rugby’s best duo in Chuck Aoki and Josh Wheeler, the fast-paced US team led by four at halftime, before Canada evened up the score in the third and sealed the game late into regulation.
“Team USA plays a fast, strong game. They move the ball well, so it was important for us to keep our spacing on the floor,” Hirschfield said.
Hirschfield co-captains Canada’s wheelchair rugby team, with the Parapan Am Games being his first Games appearance and sixth on the international stage. He became involved with wheelchair rugby when he was introduced to the sport by his former recreational therapist Duncan Campbell, who co-invented the sport.
Hirschfield was born able-bodied but was involved in a vehicular accident at the age of 16 when his van went over a cliff, paralyzing him below the neck. It was during his time rehabbing his injury in Vancouver when he met Campbell, who recruited him to play wheelchair rugby. Soon after, he made the trip from his home in Parksville, on Vancouver Island, to the mainland twice a week to practice with the BC team. From there, it only took a few years to find himself competing for Canada at the IWRF championships.
“It’s not playing on the field that you remember, but the good times in the locker room and travelling to tournaments with good people that sticks with you,” Hirschfield told a BC based website.
Perhaps most surprisingly, wheelchair rugby was not a Parapan Am sport until this year. Regarded as one of the most popular sports adapted for people with disabilities, the recreational opportunity has given tens of thousands of people newfound confidence and social opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Trevor Hirschfield is just happy to have been given a chance to play wheelchair rugby and the teammates and friends it has given him. He currently lives in Vancouver with his fiancé and practices with the BC wheelchair rugby team at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
Want to play wheelchair rugby? Check out these clubs:
- Calgary Wheelchair Rugby Association
- Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association
- London And District Wheelchair Sports Association
- Pacific Institute For Sport Excellence (PISE)