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Veteran finds new passion, inspiring story in sled hockey – Port Arthur News




Port Neches native Joshua Yarbrough was part of a championship team when the Las Vegas Golden Knights won the Tier II National Championship at the Toyota-USA Disabled Hockey Festival.

But Yarbrough’s time in sled hockey has brought him more than just the joys of winning.

During a deployment to Afghanistan in 2011, Yarbrough, who was a sergeant, lost both legs when an IED exploded.

Yarbrough said the recovery process is emotionally draining. While recovering in San Antonio, he was recommended to try sled hockey.

I thought contact sports were over for me, he said. I played golf for a while. But there is a big difference between hitting a ball and hitting a person. It’s been therapeutic.

At the time I tried and played goalkeeper, but I wasn’t in a place where I was worried about that. I just wanted to finish my rehab and leave.

Yarbrough lost both his legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2011. (Courtesy Photo)

About three years later, Yarbrough was at his sons’ soccer practice when he had a revelation.

I had about an hour and a half to kill and I realized I needed a hobby, he said. Hockey seemed to be fun. I found a team in Houston and got the contact details online. I was there the following Saturday and every weekend since when they have it.

Yarbrough said he was hooked after the first practice.

I was put on the left wing, he said. I played my first season there. Then I was moved to defender. Now I can hit people.

The Yarbroughs team is the Houston Hellhounds, but the team hasn’t played in a while after the nonprofit organizer passed away. Yarbrough was able to get a waiver to play with the Knights for the championship.

The team fosters friendships and the drive to stay in shape, Yarbrough said.

Having the physical outlet is good, he said. It makes me want to improve myself and stay in shape, because otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it.

Yarbrough recently won a championship with the Las Vegas Knights Tier 2 team. (Courtesy photo)

Yarbrough will also share his time on the ice with his 15-year-old son Sean, who has had surgery for flat feet.

At his age, they’re starting to withdraw and do their own thing, Yarbrough said. After my injury, a lot of that relationship felt very tense. I now have three children, but then I only had him. He was 4 when that happened. I played with him all the time. I had many plans as a father of all the things I wanted to do. I wanted to coach baseball and teach him all these things. I can’t show him footwork for football. I can’t show him the footwork to swing a baseball bat. I can’t show him how to step into a pitch. That was frustrating and put a strain on our relationship for a long time. I felt like he was on the short end of the deal.

Yarbrough said having his son on the team has given them something to bond over.

We’re going to train and I hit him like everyone else, he said. Hopefully that will eventually make him a better player.

Yarbrough said he encourages anyone going through something similar to find some athletic activity to use as an outlet.

If there’s a sport you like, they probably have a version of it, he said.

Those wishing to donate to the Houston Hellhounds can do so by




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