Monica Quimby, 36,
To speak with Monica Quimby is to be inspired. Example 1A: the passion in her voice just a few days after she won a gold medal in sled hockey.
“I cannot tell you how much it means when you finally reach a goal after 10 years of hard work,” she says. “When they play your national anthem, you’re wearing a Team USA jersey, and you have a gold medal around your neck – it’s the most incredible feeling.”
Quimby won her medal playing sled hockey at the first-ever Para Ice Hockey Women’s World Challenge, which took place at the end of August in Green Bay, Wisconsin. But to say that moment took only 10 years of work as a sled hockey player sells Quimby’s story short – in reality, her hard work began another decade earlier, after a terrible accident while skiing for the University of New Hampshire.
“I was doing my 30th backflip,” she explains. Her first 29 on that day had gone well, but the last one severely injured her spinal cord, paralyzing her.
At that point, the simplest parts of her day — getting out of bed, getting dressed — became immensely challenging. But she persisted. She stayed active, and eventually found a path for reconnecting with the part of her at her core that makes her a competitive athlete, first in canoeing, and then in sled hockey.
Before sled hockey, there was paracanoe (also known as va’a), which is what brought Quimby to the Gulf Coast in the first place. She rented in Parrish before buying in Bradenton, after falling in love with the area’s beaches and restaurants. And while many people who move to Florida cite the warmer weather, it’s particularly helpful to Quimby, who enjoys easier mobility and reduced pain as a result.
That deep internal persistence is a defining personality trait for Quimby, along with tenacity – her teammates call her “the force.” And her plans for the next five years are currently documented with multicolored post-it notes, a different hue for each project. In addition to maintaining her training regimen (she works out every day, even on vacation), Quimby will continue her work as a coordinator for a leaders program for others who have suffered spinal cord injuries. She’s also being intentional about expanding her career as a public speaker.
And she plans to write a book about her life. No doubt, it will be an inspiring story to read.
— Alex Walsh
City of Residence: Bradenton
Leader Program,Backbones, Fl Sand and USA Hockey
Title: Coordinator of a Leader Program, Social Media Manager and Team USA athlete
Years in the area: nine
Marital Status/Children: Single
Alma Mater/Degree: B.S. Molecular, cCellular and Developmental Biology and M.S. Ed
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Wheelchair 4 Kids, Florida Sled Hockey
Are you working from the company office, home office or hybrid? home office
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Or the weirdest task you've ever been assigned? My weirdest job was my first job, I picked peas which led into strawberries and my first career. I ended up doing strawberry genetic research in college and helped discover the maternal ancestor (published a paper, too!)
What's your top tip for being productive? My top tip for being productive is discipline (I never skip a workout, even on vacation), enjoy what you are doing and variety. I journal daily and every three months, reevaluate what is working for you and what you can cut out or outsource.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? I would grow and sell plants.
What's your favorite off-hours activity? My favorite activity is sled hockey.
What's the most significant item on your life bucket list — and what's keeping you from completing it? Going bungee jumping in Switzerland, and I have to be done with being a paid athlete.
What's your favorite podcast? The Happiness Lab
At what percentage on your phone do you start to get Low Battery Anxiety? 15, that red warning light
What are the top three apps used on your smartphone? Instagram, Spotify and Youtube
What books are you reading now? The Magic of Thinking Big
What's your go-to music genre, band or act to be inspired? I love classic rock.
Who would play you in the movie of your life? Ali Stroker
Where is your happy place? Anywhere where there is water
Describe yourself in three words: Grit, Compassionate and Adaptable
Who is your mentor for your career and why? My mentor is my mother, she has always taught me to chase my passions and she has been supportive in all of my endeavors.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? My biggest lessons that I have learned from my mentor is to never give up, to finish what you started and to always treat people with kindness.