Franklin resident prepares for Paralympic Winter Games with US Men's Sled Hockey Team

Team will practice in Nashville until Wednesday
Joey Woodke
Posted at 2:52 PM, Feb 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 06:17:46-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville is playing host to the U.S. Men's Sled Hockey Team for their final few practices before the Paralympic Winter Games.

The team is practicing at Ford Ice Center in Antioch until Wednesday.

A Franklin resident and former Marine is a defenseman. Joseph "Joey" Woodke most recently played for the Nashville Sled Preds.

"In the military, we really had to rely on each other and trust each other to do our own jobs so we can succeed," said Woodke. "It's the same in thing in hockey. I'm a defenseman, so if I don't trust my forwards to do their job then I can't do mine."

Woodke, who lost both his legs and damaged his right ear after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan, has played with the national team for three years.

"That team aspect that I learned growing up and then got reinforced in the military it's huge. When it comes to team sports especially at this level, when we're going up against like Canada and Russia, if they see you're not getting along they're going to take advantage of that and make you pay," Woodke said.

The athlete admires his fellow Paralympians.

"Everybody that's on these teams, no matter what sport, they're actually phenomenal athletes and multi-sport athletes. We have guys on our team that have been to other Olympics for sports already," he said.

On March 5, the U.S. Men's Sled Hockey takes on Canada for their first game in Beijing.

"I'm just really excited to go get started, get to Olympic village, get on that ice that first time and practice. I think it's going to take a lot of weight off our shoulders," he said.

The veteran thanked Semper Fi & America’s Fundfor the organization's support after his injury and up to now. Semper Fi & America's Fund provides lifetime support for veterans and their families, including equipment, funding, home renovations and a sense of community.