Jason Regier is good as gold—Olympic gold. Team USA Wheelchair Rugby defeated Australia 53-44 to win gold in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. It was the culmination of a dozen years of overcoming obstacles.
Since 1996, Regier earned a bachelor's and two master's degrees, entered the corporate world, became president of a fiercely competitive rugby team, won gold medals in international sporting events in Brazil and New Zealand, starred in and co-produced an award-winning movie, was featured in a book and still managed to find time to volunteer with a therapeutic program at the University of Colorado Denver's health sciences center. How did this journey begin? With a he suffered spinal cord injury that left him full-time in a wheelchair.
Focus, determination and the support of friends and family fueled Regier's momentum. Right after his devastating auto accident in 1996, Regier spent 3 1\2 months in rehabilitation at Denver's Craig Hospital. He was paralyzed from the neck down for the first several months. "It was a struggle—it took me a year to be able to push my wheelchair any reasonable distance and to gradually build up my endurance."
With and MBA in business and an MS in marketing
In Richard Holicky's book entitled Roll Models: People Who Live Successfully Following Spinal Cord Injury, Regier describes spinal cord injury as a crash course in life. Leaving rehab, his first goals were to learn independence and find passion in life. During this time, he re-evaluated his life's direction and decided he needed more education to fully use his abilities. "I had always enjoyed athletics," explains Regier, "But I didn't know how much I'd like business." Regier completed an MBA in business and an MS in marketing from the Business School at UC Denver in 2004.
Wheelchair rugby, movies and more
He also began playing quad rugby in 1997, and within two years became president of the Denver Harlequin Wheelchair Rugby Team. The sport is described as a cross between wheelchair basketball and football. It was originally referred to as "murderball," due to the highly competitive, aggressive nature of the game. It's played internationally by world class athletes with gladiator-like wheelchairs and an "adrenaline-rush" fervor.
His drive also led to a starring role (as well as executive producer) for an award-winning movie, The Goal, released in 2006.
Regier says his MS in marketing and his MBA in business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship provided him with a solid business foundation. His education also gave him the confidence to lead his league's promotional efforts and to investigate sponsorship opportunities. Part of his mission is to raise public awareness in America for this exciting, fast-paced sport. Wheelchair rugby events in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand routinely enjoy sold-out stadiums.
New initiatives are in motion for Regier. He's developing a pilot for a monthly wheelchair-rugby cable television/internet show, speaking at schools and businesses and producing video. He is still active in Team USA training. To earn his place on the team, Regier attended three tryout camps and 15 training camps, plus played in several tournaments over the course of two years. He also plays with the Denver Harlequins Wheelchair Rugby team.
Regier's philosophy is summed up by his three favorite quotes:
- "In the face of adversity, true character shines through."
- "Do what you can where you are with what you have." (paraphrasing Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
- "Some people find a way; others find excuses."
To Jason Regier, the final word is: "No excuses."
For more information about "The Goal: An Inspirational Story", visit www.maverickentertainment.cc. Watch the USA-Australia match online at www.universalsports.com/
More information about the research work on spinal cord injury by UC Denver Dr. Stephen Davies.