When Rob Gosse’s motorcycle collided with a semi, he wasn’t thinking about sports. He was thinking about his kids. As a self-employed automotive technician, his attention moved from the pursuit of conventional success to parenthood. His fitness journey became part of that goal. When a L1 spinal cord injury that left in him in a wheel chair, he had two kids under the age of 2. He sold his business and focused on sports and family.
Rob tried adaptive sports: basketball, horseback riding, everything he could, eventually landing on alpine skiing. Skiing allowed him to be out of his chair. On the mountain, he was just another skier. Most importantly, it was something he could easily do with his kids and have fun.
He competed provincially, then on the NORAM circuit for 3-4 years. He retired in 2011-2012. Rob was sticking to his motto: if something stops being fun, stop doing it. Skiing became work; he hated being on the hill so he took a year off. He now skis with his family recreationally, coaches developing adaptive skiers and teaches newcomers.
During his hiatus, he fell in love again: with water skiing. He competed last year in three-event water ski: trick, jump and slalom. He was in the provincials and US Nationals, ultimately receiving an invitation to compete at the World’s. He took some time to share with me about his journey.
Perspiration Inspiration: Adaptive Skier, Rob Gosse, Makes A Splash
Q: Were you always active and athletic?
A: When I was in high school I competed in gymnastics. I was socially awkward until I became involved in sports.
Q: How did your athletic experience shape recovery for you?
A: I had good body awareness from gymnastics, which helps me transfer to and from my chair. My upper body has always been strong. My small body size means that is enough to get me where I need to go. My injury was L1 but neurological level is L4, so I can use my hip flexors and quads. This helps me load my chair and drive. I can walk with support.
My athletic physical condition improved my recovery time; I was in VGH for 6 weeks and GF strong for 6 weeks. My injury was June 9, 2006 and I was on the hill skiing in January of 2007.
Q: How do you stay motivated to be active?
I’ve always been an actively busy person. Now keeping busy helps my body feel better. This winter, we had no snow, so I couldn’t be as busy and my body ached.
Q: How were your athletic aspirations supported in recovery?
A: The clinical model was client centered. We set out goals. Mine was to walk out of GF Strong. Getting dressed and day-to-day activities were important too but everyone helped me work towards my main goal.
Q: What is your advice for parents contemplating becoming active?
A: Look for activities to do as a family. If your kids see you doing something, they will want to join in. We ski together and my son is a better free skier than I ever will be. When you pick something that can be done at different levels, you motivate each other to improve.
Q: What do you get out of competing emotionally?
A: I thrive on competing at a high level. I love watching what people do and how. I’m very technical and relate what I see to my function. I love breaking down tasks and teaching. Giving back is important and adaptive sports let me do that.
A: It was degrading and intimidating. I didn’t want to be seen, I had low self-esteem and PTSD so I worked with a psychologist. A physiotherapist and occupational therapist rounded out my support system. Beyond professionals, friends, family, dad, siblings, everyone was supportive.
I don’t wish the injury on anyone but I would say I have a better quality of life than I did before. I enjoy life more. I’m not chasing the almighty dollar. When I weigh success versus time with my kids, I would rather have time with my kids.
As an adaptive skier and now a competitive water skier, Rob Gosse is making waves in the way his kids define success and value fitness. His is a story that leaves you asking: How can I involve my kids in my fitness journey?
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Alison Tedford is a freelance writer from Abbotsford, BC. She is a single mom who documents her journeys in parenting, fitness and feminism on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops
Read on as she contributes motivational stories in her column, #PerspirationInspiration, right here on the Moose is Loose.