US Women's Sled Hockey Team

Erica Mitchell

Born: 1987
Number: 8
Position: Defense
Hometown: Chicago, IL

“I’ve been here since the beginning.”

Growing up in Chicago, Illinois, Erica Mitchell was born with caudal regression syndrome. The syndrome, in which the bones in the lower spine are usually missing or misshapen, resulted in an inability to walk without assistance. However, Mitchell still aspired to be an athlete and eventually a Paralympian.

During her childhood in Chicago, Mitchell attended a grammar school with a student population of half able-bodied and half disabled students. The school would frequently take the disabled students out of class to expose them to adaptive sports. Mitchell took an interest in wheelchair basketball, but didn’t like the feeling of being in a wheelchair–that’s when her coach suggested that she should try sled hockey. Sled hockey would be similar in movement to pushing herself on a skateboard, and it would continue to enable her athletic ambitions.

When starting sled hockey, Mitchell knew nothing about the sport, but her father continued to motivate and support her. With him at Mitchell’s side at every practice, game, and tournament, she continued with her sled-hockey career. Unfortunately, when playing for the RIC Blackhawks along with the USA Women’s Sled-Hockey team in 2014,  Mitchell’s father suffered from a substantial heart attack and passed away. Mitchell was then thrown into a depressed state. The support figure that was with her since childhood suddenly was absent. The low-point that ensued consumed Mitchell, and at some points she wanted to quit sled-hockey as a whole. Hard work and fate had other plans, however, as 2014 was the same year that Team USA won the Women’s Sled Hockey team won the world in  Ontario, Canada. With the win was a renewed sense of confidence in the sport.

“It was an experience for the books,” Mitchell said. “When the buzzer went off my friend and I looked at each other and screamed. We made history.”

Mitchell has dreamed of being a paralympian since she picked up her sticks and glided down the rink for the first time. In 2022, she is hopeful that she will get just that chance when women’s sled-hockey bids to become an olympic sport.

News about Erica:

Erica Mitchell