a male Para ice hockey player

Josh Pauls

Para Ice Hockey

Call him “Spudsy” or call him a prodigy. Whatever the case, Pauls has been a staple on the blue line for the USA since 2008, and he captained his team to gold at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.

It was the third straight Paralympic champion team Pauls had been a part of.

Not too many people can say at the age of 17 that they won a Paralympic title at Vancouver 2010; but Pauls can. He was the youngest member on the team, and four years later, his hunger to win helped the USA to Paralympic gold at Sochi 2014.

Pauls racked up eight points for the USA across the 2017 World Championships, only to see his side lose out to fierce rivals Canada in the final.

Born without tibia bones in both legs, Pauls had both amputated at just 10 months old. Just barely breaking into high school, Pauls was named a member of the USA’s hockey team and has flourished ever since.

At the 2013 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool, the US lost out again to Canada, but for Pauls personally the tournament was a success. He scored four goals and added two assists in four games.

In the 2014-15 season, Pauls was named Best Defenceman of the World Championships after holding off champions Canada to carry the US to a 3-0 victory.

In 2015-16, he scored four times and racked-up 10 assists.

Pauls is also one of a kind. A very superstitious athlete, he can often be seen looking towards a Mr. Potatohead figure before each game. If the US are victorious, a lot of Pauls rituals, such as wearing the same undershirt and throwing a tennis ball with teammate Greg Shaw, stay the same.


Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment

Further personal information

Wife Katie
St. Louis, MO, USA
Motivational Speaker
Higher education
Sports Management - Lindenwood University : Saint Charles, MO, USA

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He began playing Para ice hockey at age eight in New Jersey, United States of America.
Why this sport?
"My dream was to represent my country or play in the NHL. I realised I couldn't really do this, but then I found sled hockey. It's just another way to represent my country. I think it's the coolest thing."
Club / Team
DASA St. Louis Blues: United States
Name of coach
David Hoff [national], USA
Preferred position / style / stance / technique

International debut

Competing for
United States
Charlottetown, PEI, CAN

General interest

Spudsy [his teammates believe he has a resemblance to the Mr. Potato Head toy]. (, 14 Mar 2013)
Cooking, playing video games, watching ice hockey and American football. (, 2017)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold at the Paralympic Winter Games in 2010 and 2014. (Athlete, 29 Mar 2018)
Most influential person in career
Coach Jeff Sauer. (Athlete, 29 Mar 2018)
Hero / Idol
US Para ice hockey player Steve Cash. (Athlete, 29 Mar 2018)
Superstitions / Rituals / Beliefs
His pre-match routine involves a Mr Potato Head toy figure, due to his teammates giving him the nickname 'Spudsy'. "I face a Mr. Potato Head figure towards the opponents' locker room before every game. I was given the toy as a joke and now it is part of my pre-game superstition. It may sound ridiculous, but it is much more sanitary than not changing my underwear." (, 01 Apr 2016;, 14 Mar 2013)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"I don't just play hockey, I live it." (Twitter profile, 06 Mar 2014)
Awards and honours
He was named Best Defenceman at the 2015 World Championships A-Pool and the 2016 Pan Pacific Championships, which both took place in Buffalo, NY, United States of America. (, 28 Oct 2016, 24 Jun 2015)
To coach an NHL ice hockey team. (, 06 Mar 2018)
He was born without tibia bones in both legs. The limbs were amputated at the knee when he was age 10 months. (Athlete, 06 Mar 2014;, 14 Mar 2013)
Other information
In 2021 he captained the US team to gold at the World Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic, and got married to his partner Katie in the same week. "It was a pretty wild week going from a gold-medal game win one Saturday to getting married the next. It was definitely the highlight week of my life for sure. It was a lot of work and planning, but I don't think I could have planned it out better." (, 07 Oct 2021)

In 2019 he released his autobiography titled 'Lessons Learned: My Journey to the Podium'. (, 01 Jan 2019)

In 2020 he graduated with a master's degree in business administration from the Keller Graduate School of Management at DeVry University in the United States of America. (LinkedIn profile, 01 Jan 2021)

He was named as an ambassador for the NHL's 'Hockey is for Everyone' campaign in February 2018. "I just want to leave the game a little bit better than it was before I came. It's a really exciting initiative to be a part of because hockey's such a great game, and anytime you can push inclusion, whether it's with disability, gender identity or anything like that, it's definitely exciting to be able to do that." (, 15 Feb 2018)

He captained the US national Para ice hockey team to gold at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. (, 01 Aug 2018, 30 Nov 2018)


Unit Date Rank
Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games (Vancouver, Canada)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Mixed Group A 1
Mixed Group A 3
Mixed Group A 5
Mixed Semifinal 202
Mixed Gold Medal Match 101
Paralympic Winter Games 2014 (Sochi, Russia)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Mixed Group B 2014-03-08 1
Mixed Group B 2014-03-09 3
Mixed Group B 2014-03-11 6
Mixed Group B - Standings 2014-03-11 2
Mixed Semifinal 2014-03-13 202
Mixed Gold Medal Match 2014-03-15 101
Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games (Pyeongchang, South Korea)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Mixed Tournament Group B 2018-03-11 2
Mixed Tournament Group B 2018-03-12 4
Mixed Tournament Group B 2018-03-13 5
Mixed Tournament Group B - Standings 2018-03-13 1
Mixed Tournament Semifinal 2018-03-15 2
Mixed Tournament Gold Medal Match 2018-03-18 1