Even amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic, for Team Canada para ice hockey player Branden Sison, competing at the Paralympics was a dream come true.
The Edmonton native took part in his first Paralympics after learning he made Team Canada in February.
Speaking over a video call, Sison talked about his experience nervously waiting in his Calgary hotel room for the call from Team Canada’s coaches.
“It’s always stressful being in that kind of situation … you never really know if you’re going to make that cut or not,” said the defenceman. “Hearing that I made the team from the coaches takes a big weight off your shoulders … you’re able to relax and smile, and think about your journey so far.”
Sison was a member of Team Canada at the 2021 Para Ice Hockey World Championships in the Czech Republic, featuring in all of Canada’s games and finishing with the silver medal.
In Beijing, Sison made his Paralympics debut in a 6-0 preliminary round win against South Korea. Canada would go on to claim another silver medal, falling to the United States in the final.
Even though Beijing 2022 was disrupted by COVID protocols and bubble accommodations, Sison’s teammates emphasized the importance of simply embracing the experience.
Sison paraphrased the advice Team Canada’s veterans shared with him.
“Take it all in and just really absorb everything, every moment with the highs and the lows, because you never know, you may not be back to that point again in the future.”
Moving past Beijng 2022, Sison isn’t ruling out competing in the 2026 Winter Games in Italy, looking forward to potentially taking part in a more “normal” Paralympics.
The Edmontonian is also excited to set some new goals for himself outside of hockey now that he has the time.
“Taking a step back, looking over my whole life, I want to go to school… I want to get some more job experience,” Sison said.