CALGARY – There have been some great comebacks in the history of sport.
And Jason Beaman could be amongst those at the top of the list.
Back at the 1992 Paralympic Winter Games, Beaman was a member of Canada’s Para alpine skiing team and placed fourth in the slalom in his category. However, injuries quickly derailed his promising career while he was still a teenager, and he decided to focus on school, a professional career outside sport, and raising a family – all of which happened with great success.
“Back in those days the technical events were raced without a helmet,” said Beaman, a leg amputee who made the national team at 16. “I had knee problems and concussions. Thankfully sport is a lot different now with more precautions.”
Still, he stayed close to sport and was particularly involved in playing Para ice hockey. Eventually the super fit 50-year-old discovered sitting volleyball and was soon invited to a national team camp.
Could it be possible to return to the Paralympic Games 32 years later in 2024?
“I would love to get one more Paralympics in,” Beaman said during the ParaTough Cup stop in Calgary in March. “We still have to qualify but last year at the world championships we played really well. We are really at the edge of being able to make it through to Paris.”
Canada was 13th at the world championships last year and will play in a qualifier in Edmonton from May 9-13. There are seven countries expected to compete in the men’s tournament for one Paralympic Games spot.
“I was invited to try sitting volleyball two years ago and I really enjoyed it,” Beaman said. “Then I went to a selection camp and the coach saw something in me and I’ve been training with the national team ever since.”
The high intensity national team program lit a fire in Beaman.
“I discovered competing was something I was really missing,” he said. “Leaving it left a hole in my life. My professional career is also very competitive, but sport really made me get it back and volleyball made it happen.”
Based in Calgary, Beaman is an HR professional who now owns his own firm Straight Up HR since 2018. He worked 20 years in the industry before moving out on his own. His business helps companies in recruitment, human resources and labour consulting, and professional coaching.
One of the things that excites Beaman for 2024 is the fact that people will be available to witness the team’s performances in Paris if they make the Games. Back in 1992, the internet was a rumour and there was no TV broadcast and little media exposure of the Games.
“The awareness of the sports and Games has just grown,” he said. “There are more athletes, more developmental programs, and that’s just going to improve over the next 10 years. We need to give youth the opportunity because we have a limited pool of people.”
Beaman says events like ParaTough Cup are crucial for raising awareness and generating funds to keep youth with a disability in sport.
“Sport is expensive,” he said. “Kids in sport are good kids and they’ll develop friendships through sport that will last forever. There are a lot of expenses from rehab to equipment to travel. To dream to represent your country is a good feeling.”
Of course, Beaman is also a fine example that it is never too late to try your hand at a Para sport.
“It keeps people my age healthy and sharp. I still dream about winning that medal.”