US Women's Sled Hockey Team

Kelsey DiClaudio

Born: 1997
Number: 11
Position: Forward
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

“Sport knows no gender. Sport knows passion. A lot of the time, people will only focus on gender, but it’s not about that. It’s about your dedication to the sport and how much you want it.”

Kelsey Diclaudio has been playing hockey for over 10 years, but she was not always in a wheelchair. Diclaudio was born with tethered spinal cord syndrome and suffered from chronic pain in her back and legs. She underwent many surgeries, and though they helped to alleviate her pain, they eventually left her completely unable to walk.

Hockey has been a huge part of her life, and she has been playing since she was only eight years old.

“I remember going to my twin’s soccer games when we were around six years old, and I would be so upset that I couldn’t keep up with the other kids,” Diclaudio said. “I was always a very competitive kid.”

One of the girls in Diclaudio’s elementary school worked with a local sled hockey organization in Pittsburgh. She noticed Diclaudio’s fierce, competitive spirit and told her to try it out. She immediately fell in love with sled hockey, and she has played it ever since.

When she first started playing sled hockey, Diclaudio was one of the only girls on her team.

“Playing with guys has always been normal for me, and I’ve enjoyed it,” Diclaudio said. “It allowed me to bring my game up a level. I wanted to prove people wrong and show that I was just as good as the men. I want you to hit me. If you don’t hit me, I take it as an insult. I want to be taken seriously.”

Diclaudio is a firm believer in the fact that you don’t have to be a certain gender to play sports. It is all about your dedication and devotion to the sport that you are playing. When she first found out that there would be an all-women’s paralympic sled hockey team, she was ecstatic. She believes that everyone deserves a chance to do what they love, and women should be able to play in the Paralympics just as the men do.

“We can do just as much as men,” Diclaudio said. “We need people to take us seriously.”

Playing in the next U.S. Olympics would be a game-changer for the women’s sled hockey team.

“All of the work we’ve done has been to grow this sport,” Diclaudio said. “I’ve gained confidence, I’ve gained friends, and I am so thankful for this sport. I want anyone out there who even tries sled hockey to feel that.”

News about Kelsey:

https://www.theonlinerocket.com/sports/2016/09/30/sru-freshmen-working-to-make-her-olympic-dream-a-reality/

http://penguinssledhockey.org/player-stories/kelsey-diclaudio/

http://triblive.com/sports/hssports/hockey/7108556-74/hockey-diclaudio-sled

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/photo-galleries/2013/04/02/pittsburgh-sled-hockey-team-produces-gold-medalist/

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/kelsey-diclaudio-defies-expectations-us-development-sled-hockey-team

Kelsey DiClaudio