AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB)- Hockey has always been a big part of life for the Eberhard family.
“I have a son who plays travel hockey, so that was always the focus, was him playing hockey. And recently the focus has kind of turned to his sister,” said Mike Eberhard.
That’s because Mike’s daughter, 13-year-old Maddy, just became the youngest member of the National Women’s Team.
But she plays hockey a little differently than her brother.
Maddy was born with Larsen Syndrome: all her joints from the waist down are dislocated.
“I used to do stand-up skate but I knew I was never going to fully be able to play hockey. So when I found sled hockey, it was like really cool because I was able to play some sort of hockey,” she told News 4.
The eighth-grader first got introduced to the sport of sled hockey five years ago. Now, she plays for the Buffalo Sabre’s Select Sled Hockey Team, with men twice her age.
Her dad is the coach.
“It’s been fun to watch her grow in the sport, finding it was one of the best things that ever happen to her,” Mike Eberhard said.
After making an impression at tryouts, Maddy will spend the next year traveling around the country with the team.
For her, this is a chance to be a role model.
“I remember when I was younger and I was looking up to the players that were on the Women’s National Team, and now I am one of them and it’s cool,” she said.
Maddy’s little brother Michael plays Amherst Youth Hockey, and keeps Maddy on her toes.
So do Mom and Dad, who said just because she’s a national athlete, doesn’t mean homework can be late.
“It’s hard balancing like school, work, and trying to fit in practicing and like hanging out with friends, but somehow I make it work,” Maddy said.
And she has goals beyond making the Women’s National Team: she wants to compete in the Paralympics in 2018 in Seoul, Korea.
The Women’s National Sled Hockey Team kicks off its season Sept. 11th against the Philadelphia Flyers.