Katylin “Katy” Maddry is a snowboarder on the Disabled Sports USA E-Team – a program that provides emerging athletes (ages 13-24) in summer and winter Paralympic sports with opportunities to help them train and compete at their maximum capacity. 2019 is Katy’s fifth year as a member of the E-team, having started at her first Ski Spec when she was just thirteen. At the 2018 event, she was surprised with a new snowboard thanks in part to the #AbilityEquipped program.
Katy grew up in Wasilla, Alaska – one hour outside of Anchorage – as the youngest of four. Katy was born with fibula tibia hemimelia, a condition she describes as “having only two toes, and it resulted in scoliosis.” Katy was born in China and lived there until she was six years old. When she was adopted at six, Katy moved to Alaska and became a patient at Shriners Hospital in Portland. Her team of doctors felt that a below-the-knee amputation would be necessary, and Katy remembers experiencing the amputation when she was eight. “There were bandages everywhere – so many surgeries,” she recalls.
When asked what her life has been like before and after her amputation, Katy doesn’t hesitate. “Life has been so good since then – I’ve met so many more people than I would have, and I love it.” Katy didn’t participate in many sports before her amputation, but she fell in love with snowboarding on a middle school trip to her now-home mountain of Alyeska.
“My middle school took a trip to Alyeska every year,” Katy says, “and they invited me to go and work with a program there called Challenge Alaska.” Working with her coaches at this local DSUSA chapter, Katy quickly took to snowboarding and fondly remembers her first runs on the bunny hill. Katy still trains frequently with Challenge Alaska and looks to Ski Spec in Breckenridge as one of her favorite weeks of the year. “Going to these kinds of camps with other athletes with amputations – we meet people, we create these awesome bonds.”
Because of snowboarding, Katy says, she has become more social and more connected with communities that she now thinks of as family. Katy hopes to someday compete at the Paralympic level and looks forward to graduating high school this spring. “I definitely want to go to college,” she says, and has her sights set on Arizona State University in Phoenix. “I want to go into engineering – either drafting floor plans or actually building structures,” Katy says. “ASU is near Utah, and I’ve always wanted to train with the National Ability Center at Park City.”
To any who have a disability and haven’t yet tried an adaptive sport, Katy says: “Try it out! It’s fun, and just amazing. You won’t regret it.”