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United by Hockey Mobile Museum Gives Fans a Glimpse into Malik Jones’ Life

By Sean Shapiro, 02/29/24, 1:15PM EST


The Paralympic gold medalist has his own VR portion of the museum

Malik Jones in the navy Team USA jersey, looks up toward the sky before taking the ice.

If you’ve ever wanted to join Malik Jones on the ice, now’s your chance. 

As part of the United by Hockey Mobile Museum, which is currently on a tour across NHL cities, hockey fans can strap on a virtual reality headset to get an inside look at sled hockey from the 21-year-old’s perspective.    

“That’s a pretty cool feeling, just to be able to tell my story through VR and I was excited to see it come to fruition and see it all together,” Jones said. “I knew I had been nominated, but wasn’t really expecting it to be something like this.”

Through the virtual reality experience, fans can get a first-hand view of sled hockey. As part of the project, Jones memorized a script to interact with fans, then went through some techniques that were captured by VR cameras, including some stickhandling and shooting drills. 

The exhibit also includes a trip to Jones’ off-ice workouts, where he shares with the audience how he trains as an adaptive athlete. 

For Jones, who won a gold medal with the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, it’s a chance to share his sport with the wider hockey community. 

Jones was born without tibias and had both of his legs amputated when he was 10 months old. As a child, he originally got into hand cycling, and when he was a 7-year-old his grandmother found a local sled hockey organization to sign him up for in Littleton, Colorado. 

“I went one Saturday and I fell in love,” Jones said. “Ever since then I’ve been playing, and when I was about 10 or 12 I found out it was a Paralympic sport, from then I worked my tail off with the dream of getting to where I am now and reaching the Paralympics and winning a gold medal.”

Jones is a dynamic force on the ice; he attacks with speed and takes advantage of space he manipulates with that speed. With Team USA, he’s become a key focal point to the offensive attack as they prepare for the World Para Ice Hockey Championship later this spring after two, three-game series’ against Canada in mid-March and early April

Jones is also just the second Black player to represent Team USA in sled hockey. Tim Jones (no relation) was the first, and he helped the U.S. win a Paralympic bronze medal in 2006 and a gold medal in 2010. 

For Malik, he said his inclusion in the United by Hockey Museum is an opportunity for the entire sport to gain some attention. The museum tour started in October in Ottawa, Ontario, and continues through April, finishing the season in Chicago on April 11. 

“We’ve been trying to grow sled hockey ever since it started, it’s a relatively small sport, but it’s definitely getting bigger,” Jones said. “So it’s this community that’s great and has been wonderful for me, that we get to share with everyone else through this. To know and see a player’s story through my eyes, it’s awesome to see, and I’m so glad it’s there and getting traction.” 

Jones said he’s seen some of the traction from the museum already. 

“We had a local training camp here in Colorado, and we had better attendance at the games and practices,” Jones said. “And I’ve had people ask me about what sled hockey is and how they could learn more after they saw what they did with my story at the museum.”

Jones’ story is only just beginning. 

At 21, he’s still getting better and expects to be a key asset for the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team at the 2026 Paralympics. He also plays on the Colorado Avalanche Tier I club team with fellow Paralympian Declan Farmer, and the two have only improved their on-ice chemistry at the club level. 

“I’ve kept working hard, ever since I started playing I really wanted to push to keep getting better and winning the biggest games,” Jones said. “That’s something that I think I’ve been able to keep doing, it’s really been awesome to see.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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