“Rugby is something I think about all the time. But then going like, if it’s gone, am I okay? If it’s ripped away, like my able-bodied football career was, am I okay? In that moment, I wasn’t. I had to ask, who is Joe in this new life in a wheelchair, and what’s my identity? … I think that’s an important piece too, where a lot of athletes—it might not be as devastating as a paralysis, but when they’re going through that eight- to 12-month rehab or a two-year rehab, or whatever it is, that identity is gone for a minute there and they have to kind of fight through and ask themselves those questions.”
Joe Delagrave has had to navigate more than one major life shift. He was a tight end at Winona State University in Minnesota, the ultimate team player, when a boating accident after his freshman year broke his neck and paralyzed him.
Several years later, he found wheelchair rugby and quickly excelled, helping the U.S. team to Paralympic bronze in London in 2012. He poured all his energy into winning gold in Rio in 2016—then, was cut from the team.
In this week’s episode, he describes how he recalibrated to come back and lead Team USA to silver in Tokyo in 2021. Then, he retired from competition to become the head coach, yet another significant transition.
Through the ups and downs, he’s learned there’s a lot we can’t control in life. But by leaning on yourself—and the support, effort, love and faith you’ve cultivated—you can chart your own path forward, despite obstacles.
Thank you so much to our sponsors for season 6:
Fluid Running, which has revolutionized fitness by bringing running to the deep water
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ADAM Rehabilitation, creators of the ADAM Brace System, the most stable exercise system built to save the health of your shoulders
Learn more and access exclusive discount codes for their products at buymeacoffee.com/rebound or by joining The Injured Athletes Club Facebook group.
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