While quite a few of his classmates likely returned from their spring breaks with golden tans, Noah Grove ’21 brought back actual gold — a gold medal in sled hockey from the PyeongChang Paralympic Games in South Korea.
A first-year biomedical sciences major from Frederick, Maryland, Grove competed as a member of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team that prevailed in overtime against Canada to earn its third straight gold medal. Having lost his left leg to cancer at the age of five, Grove picked up sports as an eight year old and at 15 became the youngest player named to the U.S. National Men’s Amputee Soccer Team. He was tapped for the national development team for sled hockey three years ago and has spent much of his first year of college balancing demanding coursework and a practice and tournament schedule that has taken him as far away as Minnesota. His hard work paid off in PyeongChang; in addition to earning gold on March 18, he scored the first goal in the team’s 10-1 semifinal victory over Italy on March 15.
Grove was one of seven UNH athletes — and the only current student — who participated in the 23rd Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. Also making waves at the March 9–18 Paralympics were alpine skiers Tyler Walker ’08 and Laurie Stephens ’07. Four-time Paralympian Walker earned his first medals, a pair of silvers in sitting giant slalom and sitting slalom. Already the most-decorated athlete on the U.S. Paralympic ski team, Stephens earned a bronze medal in the women’s downhill sitting event, adding to the six — two each of gold, silver and bronze — she earned in the last three Paralympics.
Three alumni athletes made their Olympic debuts at the PyeongChang Games in February. Former UNH men’s ice hockey forward Bobby Butler ’10 competed as a member of the U.S. men’s ice hockey team, which fell to the Czech Republic 3-2 in a quarter-final shootout. Two-time UNH Nordic ski MVP Annika Taylor ’15 competed as a member of Great Britain’s Nordic ski team, participating in both the women’s 10 kilometer free ski and the 7.5 kilometer skiathlon. Former grad student and Nordic MVP Clare Egan ’12G was in PyeongChang as a member of the 2018 U.S. biathlon team.
And last but in no way least, three-time Olympian Kacey Bellamy ’09 served as an assistant captain for the U.S. women’s ice hockey team that took an overtime gold medal victory of its own from Canada, a thrilling 3-2 shootout win on Feb. 22. Bellamy, who contributed a goal to the team’s Feb. 13 preliminary round victory over the Olympic athletes from Russia, added the hardware to the silver medals she earned at the 2014 Games in Sochi and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.