Athlete Profile: Noah Hotchkiss
“I’m just like any other 16 year old,” says Noah Hotchkiss.
When Noah was first involved in the car accident that caused his spinal cord injury, he and his family were uncertain whether this simple statement would ever become a reality.
A member of an active family, Noah and his dad, Jason, were worried he wouldn’t be able to continue to participate in all of the activities they did together like rafting and adventuring in the woods near their Durango, Colorado home.
“A while after my incident me and my dad started creating contraptions that helped me go rafting and adventuring, and with a basketball hoop at my house I started experimenting. It wasn’t until I got involved with the Adaptive Sports Association [a chapter of Disabled Sports USA], that I really understood the opportunities that were out there for me,” says Noah.
As a member of the Blue Elk Tribe, adaptive sports opportunities haven’t always been easy to come by. “When we started, we realized the opportunities for the disabled on reservation lands were slim,” says Noah. This is why Disabled Sports USA helped sponsor Noah to put on wheelchair basketball clinics on his reservation and others across the U.S.
“It wasn’t only sports, but everyday equipment and access to quality medical attention were terrible. That’s when the idea to create a program on the reservation popped into our minds. I am most exited that I am hopefully going to impact and change the lives of my participants.”
They chose basketball because of its popularity on reservation lands.
“On the reservation, basketball is king,” says Noah.
He hopes to teach other young athletes with disabilities that they can still participate in the sport alongside their peers. Noah hopes that through these camps he can be an inspiration.
“Sports helped me learn that it was up to me to become a better athlete. It is also up to me to have a better life, find better care and get the best for myself and those around me,” says Noah. It is this sense of self-empowerment he hopes to instill in these new athletes, in the same way that his mentors inspired him.
“About six months after my accident I met Alana Nichols and she let me wear her medals. I realized that they didn’t just give those medals to her out of pity, she had to work hard and train to earn them. She was my first Inspiration.”
Much like his mentor, Noah is a dual sport athlete. Through the Adaptive Sports Association, Noah has also become an accomplished skier. This past winter, he was recognized as a member of the 2014/2015 Disabled Sports USA Alpine E-Team, a team of youth athletes who are training at the highest level with the goal of one day making the Paralympic team.
“My ultimate goals are to become a world class athlete in both skiing and basketball and to give back to the communities that had helped me on my journey. What I enjoy most about mentoring other adaptive athletes is the ability to impact and change their lives. When I’m out skiing or playing basketball I look at my adaptive athletes and see their smile and that makes me happy.”