US Women's Sled Hockey Team

Christina Gardner

Born: 1982
Number: 19
Position: Forward
Hometown: Lewiston, ME

“People get that misconception that we’re fragile, and at this point we’re like ‘The sky’s the limit,’ because we’ve already been through it.”

Christy Gardner never thought that her life long dream would end only three and a half years in. She grew up as a varsity athlete doing two sports every season. Then, she went on to play in college on a field hockey and track scholarship only to quit track and begin playing lacrosse on another scholarship. After college, she joined the military. Gardner planned on doing 22 years of service because she never does anything to the minimum. However, three and a half years into the military, Gardner was in Asia on a peacekeeping mission attached to an infantry where she suffered skull and facial fractures. During the medical process, her spinal cord was damaged because the doctors were trying to do a needle decompression to lift the pressure from her head. The doctors accidentally dropped her with the needle in her back while she was seizing, causing the needle to wrench around her spinal cord. This caused her to lose use and sensation below the knees. The last year that she had feet, she had accidentally froze them solid twice. The doctors said it was in her best interest to amputate. For Gardner, this was a great opportunity to get out of the wheelchair.

After her injury, Gardner went through three years of physical therapy and three and a half years of speech therapy. She had to wear a helmet for seven years from skull fractures and seizures. She also had to start over the third grade as a 24 year old. As well as gaining a service dog, Moxie, who is trained in mobility assistance and seizure alert response. Doctors went over a three-page list of things Gardner would never be able to do again, some of which being running, walking, swimming, biking, living alone, and driving. Sled hockey has taught her how to overcome her hardships.

“The sport of sled hockey has impacted my life tremendously,” Gardner said. “When I came home, I went from being a scholarship college athlete, to an above-standard military soldier, and then I got injured and they labeled me as 100 percent disabled and as severely handicapped. To be honest the label [was the most] devastating. Through hockey, I’ve learned to adapt and feel pride in myself again. It’s really saved my life.”

News about Christina:

Christina Gardner