NJ teen who broke neck playing hockey: If it happened again, I’d be OK (WATCH)
It's been nearly two years since Mike "Mikey" Nichols broke his neck.
Monroe was up, late late in the second period of an ice hockey game against Vernon Jan. 4, and Nichols was having a great day. He's scored a goal and managed two assists already. He'd just taken a shot at another goal.
Then, what should have been a routine play changed his life. He was checked from behind — and hit the boards, fast and headfirst.
Nichols couldn't get up. He'd broken his neck. And he hasn't walked since.
But with the help of a supportive community, he's defying expectations. He's regained substantial movement. He can sit up all day. He graduated high school. He's become good friends with former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, also put in a wheelchair by a similar injury.
Nichols is using a specially equipped vehicle and learning to drive. He's planning to begin taking college classes at Middlesex County Community College shortly.
And Nichols plans to walk again someday, whatever it takes.
"If tomorrow I miraculously got up and started walking, and I went and played hockey and I broke my neck again, I'd be OK with it," he told NJ1015. in the video seen above, part of a special presentation on sports injuries. "It's on you. You have to know the risks. You have to want to play, and if you want to play, that should be the only thing that matters to you.
"Because this can happen to you. Literally, any way. You could be driving in a car. You could be at the beach with your friends. I just happened to be playing hockey. So your love for the game should never be stopped by any parent that you're not good enough, any coach telling you you're not big enough.
"It should be all on you, and it's up to you to prove them wrong. You have to prove people wrong very day."
See Mikey's full interview above.