“When I was 6 months old, my parents learned that I had a stroke before I was born that caused weakness in my right arm and leg. It’s called hemiparesis. But that didn’t stop my parents from sharing their love of skiing with me.
I have been skiing since I was a 2-year-old at Killington Ski Resort in Vermont, which is about six hours from our home in Hauppauge, New York. I was five when I tried snowboarding and loved it even though it is challenging because my disability makes it hard to turn and shift my balance.
In 2018, I went to the Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge, Colorado, sponsored by Disabled Sports USA and Hartford Insurance to learn how to race. The instructors were former Paralympians. I have a dream of one day competing on the U.S. Paralympic Snowboarding National Team.
While there I met a coach with Team Utah from the Snowbird Sports Education Foundation and he told me I should come to Utah to train. I said no, it was too far. My parents didn’t like the idea, either. But I Googled Utah and the University of Utah came up. I found out about the Red, White & U orientation and convinced my parents to come check it out with me.
I went snowboarding for the first time at Snowbird and the next day visited the U. I knew then it was where I wanted to be. I am majoring in mechanical engineering and want to design prosthetics for military veterans and cancer survivors.
I am a high-performance athlete with the National Ability Center in Park City and recently helped a visitor from Texas with snowboarding basics. Being disabled myself, I knew what he was going through and was able to give some tips.
I also am training with Team Utah. I am just getting my feet wet in regards to racing, learning the course format and building strength in my legs and arms.
It is a little hard being away from home, but I have good support from my family and coaches. I am just trying to find that balance between school, work and training and competing.”
—Tyler Divilio, mechanical engineering