"Roy's Perspective Central in 'Eleven Seconds'"
Originally published in the Maine Campus 2/2/98
Talking with Travis Roy is a weird experience, not that he is a a strange guy or anything, but the reality that he's a college student, not a media monolith sunk in as I conversed with him about a multitude of topics, from remembering when he used to play against my high school's team to accessibility problems in Boston. The conversation came on a late Sunday night after playing phone tag with him, and to some extent, various members of his family though the Ice Storm.
Over the past two and a half years, the scope of interest in his injury has brought in the media, especially in Maine, has been overwhelming, and as a person with a disability, I'd wanted to meet him, but probably not at one . Roy adds a whole new perspective, his own, with the publication of his book "Eleven Seconds", released January 14th by Warner Books.
Roy cowrote the book with E.M. Swift, a senior sports writer for Sports Illustrated, who played hockey for Princeton. "He came in twice a week for four hours a day."Roy continues,"I would talk to him about my life, it was like I gave him the pieces of a puzzles and he put it together" Roy said he met with Smith for two months.
"I've heard real positive stuff about it", said Roy, when asked about the feedback he is receiving about the book.
Roy's book is a great read. It's easy to relate to the life of a guy who grew up in Maine, who spent years of his life dedicated to the sport of hockey. Many readers probably didn't know he went to three different schools and spent five years in high school to attain his own goal of playing hockey for a division I hockey.
One theme that shines through the writing of the book is the tremendous support his family has given him throughout his life. Besides the support he got from his family in his pursuits in hockey, when his father was a hockey player, and coach for the Maine Mariners, where travis was a stickboy when he was a kid. When I was recently at a concert in Portland a banner hung in front of section B, with Roy's Boston University number 24, serving as a reminder of how many people rallied behind Roy.
One of the most intreguing aspects of the book are how his own feelings were during many of the events surrounding the years since injury.
From very early on, a number of people rushed to help Travis with the expenses related to his injury.
In the book, Roy details much of the horror and moments immediately after the accident, When his father was walking out to the ice at the time of the accident and one of the comments Travis made was that "I made it," at the time in which his dad and him both started crying.
Later that night he needed his oxygen mask removed to kiss his girlfriend before entering surgery. The terror running through his mind grips the reader through the pages of the book.
Much of the book deals with the long process of rehabilitation that people with spinal cord injuries undergo after their injury. Roy is very honest, sometimes painfully so, in the ways he describes his life, the pain of sitting in the hospital bed for months and the enjoyment he had going to a parking lot during a snow storm in Boston.
“It was a little theraputic,” Roy said about writing the book. “
It was not as hard to write about the actual accident because I have been asked so many times about it.
Her also detailed his stay at the Shepard Center, a world famous rehab center in Atlanta. His book details his intense rehab to regain more use of his body.
Yet while he was in rehab, he also had to deal with the media, like having to schedule press conferences to deal with the volume of interview requests. His accounts of being recognized by every waiter and waitress on the East Coast seem bittersweet, yet as the book progresses, they become almost hysterical.
The book also gave Roy a chance to write things he express publicly, such as his feelings after he was asked to run the 1996 Olympic Torch, an experience Roy described as awkward, because he felt he had been asked because he had broken his neck, not because of his athletic achievements. He soon learned that with the media following his every move it was often impossible to express one’s true feelings. On the torch run, he easily expresses how much it “sucked” because it was for the wrong reasons. Roy does show some great moments in this book, such as his sister’s wedding, his trips with his girlfriend, and how she would visit Atlanta and how they escaped to the White Mountains for a long weekend.
One relationship Roy seems to cherish most is his coach, Jack Parker.Roy uses vivid descriptions of how their relationship helped him through the various stages of his rehabilitation .
Roy did much of the work involved in the book between September and November, 1996, while he was making the difficult transition of being a disabled college student.
It was also when he made the transition that he realized how lucky he was to have the fund set up for him. Even with his excellent medical insurance, funding for his personal attendant care, which he relies on to continue school, is only covered for less than 200 days a year, the Travis Roy Fund helps offset those expenses. While BU was in a legal dispute over treatment of students with learning disabilities, Roy says he has had a good experience with the university, which is often criticized for it’s older buildings, that we’re barely accessible.
And since the publication of the book he has stopped dating his long time girlfriend.
“We still talk, she is still important in my life” Roy said.
Travis Roy is settling into college life rather fine, His grade-point-average last semester makes mine look horrible. His social life is “really great” and he’s listed as an assistant coach in BU’s Media Guide, although he says mostly just hangs out with the team. Roy, who is a communications major , may do some public relations work when he graduates. His book is being shopped around Hollywood with the possibility of a film being optioned. Roy also gives speeches on an occasional basis.I’d say he’s made it and think “Eleven Seconds” is a timely work of writing.