By Deb Everts
Champions have a fierce desire to overcome challenges and Adam Page has conquered many, including a disability that has not prevented him from winning gold medals on the ice.
On March 18, Page participated in his third Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, where he assisted his teammates in Para Ice Hockey to win an unprecedented third consecutive gold medal at the games. A week after winning his gold medal in PyeongChang, Page made a visit Sunday to Holiday Valley and the Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program in Ellicottville.
“I just turned 26 on March 10. It’s pretty cool to celebrate your birthday while competing in the paralympics, and it seems to fall that week every time I go,” he said. “Winning three gold medals in a row at the paralympics, and being able to win world championships in 2015, in my hometown, was certainly something I will never forget.”
A resident of Lancaster, Page was born with spina bifida. He said he has overcome 10 to 12 surgeries growing up as a kid but, with the help of his parents, he always focused on being a regular kid.
“It helped me to never see my disability because I was doing sports and other activities kids my age would do at that time,” he said. “At age six, I was fortunate enough to find sled hockey here in Buffalo while at a doctor’s appointment. I saw a flyer on the wall for it, so I went out and tried it. I fell in love with it right away.”
According to Page, the sport is called sled hockey in the United States, but it’s called Para ice hockey in the Paralympics.
Page said he has a personal trainer he works with four to five times a week for hockey, and he has been a student of the Lounsbury Ski Adaptive program at Holiday Valley for 13 years.
Richelle Dube, of Buffalo, is in her 18th season as a volunteer for the Lounsbury program. She said she has been working with Page as his handler since he was about 12 or 13 years old, and Lounsbury is where he first learned to mono-ski.
“I have watched Adam grow and develop into an amazing young man over the years. He works hard at everything he tries and understands the importance of listening and applying instruction to improve his ability as a skier and sled hockey player,” she said. “Adam has a level of discipline that has grown as he has grown, and he understands that in order to compete and perform at such an elite level, he must also be disciplined in his work-outs and training.”
Dube said it’s been a wonderful to watch Page’s confidence develop over the years. She said he is now an adult who has grown up and matured in ways that would make any parent proud.
“Adam is an amazing role model and I believe he wants other children with the same disability, as well as other disabilities, to know that they too can succeed,” she said. “I imagine this is where he gets his competitive drive — deep from within himself.”
According to Dube, his parents are also a driving force. They have been there supporting Page from getting him involved in sled hockey to encouraging him to explore other adaptive sports.
“Adam’s parents didn’t allow his disability to define who he is, and I don’t dismiss that he has had challenges, but it has been these challenges that made Adam who he is today and where he gets his competitiveness from,” she said.
Page said he has been a member of the Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey Club Team since 1999 when he was six years old, and he still plays with them today when he’s not with the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.
His determination and competitive spirit may be part of his success, but he credits his parents for putting him in anything he wanted to do and never saying no.
“I believe growing up around that has helped me to be able to overcome any obstacles in my life — to never give up or say no and to make my dreams come true,” he said.
According to Page, the Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program and Dube have given him the opportunity to also pursue skiing — possibly at the Paralympics — and has given him an outlet for hockey.
“It’s something I can be a part of and feel free out there,” he said. “Richelle and everyone at Lounsbury have been so supportive of me. They have helped me to get to where I am in skiing and to reach my goals that I have in the sport.”
Page said skiing has been his outlet to get away from hockey at times, but he definitely wants to pursue more in mono-skiing and start racing.
“Right now, I’m just taking it all in and enjoying this gold medal, but it would be pretty cool to say I was able to medal in two different winter sports.”
Page graduated in 2015 from Medaille College, where he majored in sports management. He said his ultimate career goal is to work for an NHL team, whether in coaching or the front office.
When he’s not on the ice, he likes to go to summer concerts, play wheelchair lacrosse and downhill ski in winter. He helped start the Sled Hockey Foundation, where he helps give kids the opportunity to play sled hockey.
For a complete list of Page’s Para ice hockey and sled hockey achievements, visit teamusa.org.