USA’s Sled Hockey Defenseman Has Mr. Potato in His Corner
Since 2008, Team USA’s sled hockey team has found comfort in knowing Josh Pauls is on defense, while he has found it in his “Mr. Potato” doll.“I face a Mr. Potato Head figure toward the opponents’ locker room before every game,” said St. Charles, Missouri Native, on joshpauls.com.
“I was given the toy as a joke and now it is part of my pre-game superstition. It may sound ridiculous, but it much more sanitary than not changing my underwear.” His teammates call him “Spudsy” and say he looks like the character.
A former world’s best defenseman winner, Pauls is playing in his fourth Paralympics in Beijing, and is a three-time gold medal winner for Team USA.
“Josh has been one of the key players and leaders on the team since the Vancouver Games in 2010, and brought a lot of attention to the sport,” said Alan Hubbard, NTI’s Chief Operating Officer. “It takes a lot of dedication and effort to get to where Josh is in his career.” NTI, a nonprofit organization, has been helping Americans with disabilities find at-home working opportunities since 1995. For more information, go to www.ntiathome.org.
Pauls grew up in New Jersey and started playing sled hockey at the age of eight. He had both legs amputated at 10 months old after being born without tibia bones. When he was only 17, he joined the USA Paralympics team in Vancouver and became a force on the backline. The team went on to win the gold medal. As a 25-year-old, Pauls was named as a captain of the team.
While a standout on the ice, Pauls has been a big proponent of the sport off the ice, being named as an ambassador for the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” campaign in 2018. Even when he is done playing, Pauls will not be finished talking about the sport he loves.
"I just want to leave the game a little bit better than it was before I came,” said Paul to USA hockey.
“It's a really exciting initiative to be a part of because hockey's such a great game, and anytime you can push inclusion, whether it's with disability, gender identity or anything like that, it's definitely exciting to be able to do that.”
(NTI has been helping Americans with disabilities, including veterans, find at-home jobs, working remotely with free job training and job placement services. Go to www.ntiathome.org for more information.)
“I was given the toy as a joke and now it is part of my pre-game superstition. It may sound ridiculous, but it is much more sanitary than not changing my underwear…”