Brotherhood formed with heroes on ice

Brotherhood formed with heroes on ice

There was something special about this sporting event -- an exhibition on ice at the Dr. Pepper Star Center in Farmer's Branch.

The Dallas Sled Stars are a group of athletes that don't let their injuries or ailments define them. They play sitting down in sleds. Hence, they call it sled hockey. 

One of the Sled Stars is Army veteran, Lawrence Green. He said one advantage in sled hockey is not having legs. "Honestly, some of the other guys get jealous because the above the knee amputees, we're a little more agile on the ice," said Green.  

"Typically we get a little bit of speed quicker. We can turn a bit sharper, and cut behind people," he said. 

After a short practice, Green talked to WFAA as they had lunch. It was clear these grown men were like brothers as they tickled Green when we asked what was next for him.  

"Just hang out with these guys and have fun with them," Green said with a laugh.

"I'd like to go to the national training camp next year," he said. 

Green's team faced off against the Texas Warriors, a 16-years-old and under team. One of their team captains, John Michael Dragojevic, goes by Canada after his native country. Also, his coach had a hard time pronouncing his name. Seeing the Sled Stars compete despite what life has handed them inspired him.

"Yeah, it motivates me to go out every day and live each day to the fullest," said Dragojevic. "They figured out [a way] to overcome their handicaps to play a game they know and love."

He's been playing since he was 3 years old and plays to win. Green was definitely not planning on taking it easy either. 

Life was not always fun and games for him. In March of 2015, he was riding his motorcycle when he was hit by another vehicle. He spent a month in a coma and woke up to find out he was a double above the knee amputee. He spent a few more weeks in the hospital and had to come to grips with his new reality.

"Whenever I had friends and family there with me during the daytime during the visiting hours, it's kind of easier to be myself to cut up and everything," Green said. At times, his mind went to a dark place.

'"As soon as they left when visiting hours were over at night time and trying to go to sleep and just laying there in the hospital bed and not being able to sleep. It's like, 'This is what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life now' was probably the toughest part of it," he said. 

He was eager to get his life back together. Just four months after his injury, he started working out at a gym called the Adaptive Training Foundation or ATF for short. They called him their daily dose of motivation. For Green, seeing wounded warriors like him crushing it was his motivation. He went from being an athlete at ATF and now is a volunteer trainer there. 

"I still wasn't fully healed. I had a little scabbing and stuff. We had to wrap up when I first started working. I'd do something and kind of bust a scab open," Green said. "I just started working out and got right back into it."

He just got accepted to the University of North Texas in Denton and will study mechanical engineering there in the spring of 2018. It has been eleven years since he's been in school. Gathering transcripts has been nerve-racking. 

Green's future is bright. Fans at the match took notice of his team's skill and determination.  Yvonne Lelko brought her son out to see her nephew play.  She pointed out the teachable moment as they cheered.

"You have to have a lot of respect for them this is not an easy game to play," said Lelko.

"It's important for them to see there are people out there with a whole lot more obstacles to overcome than they do and it's good for them to get to try what these guys are doing to see how much effort has to go into it. To see what they have to do, to overcome what life has handed them."

The Warriors scored 1 goal and the Sled Stars had 6 or 7.  There were no winners or losers in this exhibition. It was evident as they lined up after the game at center ic,  like a little league baseball game to shake hands. That turned into playful shoving and ribbing. 

You see, sled hockey isn't about pucks or the penalty box. It's about the newly bonded brotherhood formed with heroes on ice.

© 2018 WFAA-TV


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