A blood clot caused irreparable damage to Colleen’s spinal cord when she was just 11 years old, causing her to become paraplegic at a young age. She has, nevertheless, excelled tremendously in computer science, mathematics, and robotics and is a cheerful Course 6 sophomore in Alpha Chi Omega. Her secret, though: She’s been on the U.S. Women’s National Sled Hockey Team for over eight years. An extraordinary athlete and student, Colleen sat down with the The Tech explain more about her life at MIT and as a national athlete.
The Tech: What got you into sled hockey?
Colleen T. Rock: I was competing in wheelchair track and field, and a guy on the sled hockey team said, “You have to do this. It’s a lot of fun!” That was over eight years ago.
TT: What has your involvement been like with the U.S. Women’s Sled Hockey Team?
CTR: I’ve been with the team since before it started and before we got a coach last year. The team has finally just developed into a real competitive team. I love traveling, with my teammates, from Connecticut to Canada. We take 12-hour bus rides, which meant a lot of bonding!
TT: What has it been like to be in an adult league?
CR: Since I’m on the adult team, I’ve always been the youngest, the “baby.” It’s just a lot of fun to hang out with the team. I love skating, and I’m more agile in the chair on the ice. It’s cool that they support the fact that I have school, but it can definitely frustrating at times.
TT: How do you balance your time between MIT and sled hockey?
CTR: I definitely have not had enough time to practice since coming to MIT. I can’t manage to stay either uninjured or not sick.
TT: How does the sport of sled hockey work? Can you explain more about the games?
CTR: The team flies out and plays games and scrimmages against other coed adult teams. We’re supposed to play Europe and Canada’s Women’s teams soon. It’s really, really exciting. It’s like normal hockey except for there is checking with the women’s teams. Since you sit on the ice, it makes goaltending really interesting.
TT: What else are you involved with at MIT?
CTR: I’m chief justice of the judiciary committee at Maseeh Hall, an Residential Associate Advisor for Maseeh Hall and the retreat chair for Alpha Chi Omega.
TT: What other hobbies have you pursued at MIT?
CTR: What MIT student has time for hobbies? I like to take care of myself and sleep!
TT: Why are you interested in programming?
CTR: I was first involved with FIRST Robotics in high school. Programming is pretty fun, but I wish it was more tangible, like something you could touch. I am really interested in how databases are very useful and seeing how everything is connected and modeling that.
TT: What are some of your future goals?
CTR: I’d like to get into MIT’s M.Eng program for Course 6, stay on the women’s team in the future as it gets better and more competitive, and keep myself at the top level of women in the U.S. at sled hockey. Basically, I’d like to do the best I can.
TT: Can you tell us some fun facts about sled hockey?
CTR: Able-bodied people are also allowed to play sled hockey (but there’s a cap). Also, my team made in into USA Hockey Magazine last year and became funded by USA Hockey.