Patrice Dagenais finds peace in wheelchair rugby

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 21, 2021

The sport was a perfect replacement for hockey

Dagenais action

As a youngster, Paralympian Patrice Dagenais was an excellent hockey player with dreams of pursuing a career in the sport.

However in 2003, at age 18, he was diagnosed with quadriplegia after he fell from the second floor to the basement at a housing construction site where he was working part-time. He fractured the sixth vertebrae in his neck and his spinal cord.

For Dagenais, his favourite part of being in hockey was two-fold. On the ice, he thrived on the aggressive part of the game and off the ice it was the camaraderie of being on a team which added to the motivation.

It’s those very aspects that attracted him to wheelchair rugby.

‘’I discovered wheelchair rugby after watching the movie Murderball, which is a great showcase for our sport,’’ said Dagenais, in his 12th year on the national team. ‘’I saw that these guys were serious athletes, they were in shape and a goal of mine was always to compete at the highest level.

‘’It was a contact sport and that’s one of the things I liked the most in hockey was the contact.’’

It took about two years after his accident for Dagenais to get reacquainted with sport as he realized his chances of walking again, let alone playing hockey, were evaporating.

‘’Just the companionship too of being back on a team with guys who went through the same challenges as me in the past was very important for me to find. Just playing with a ball and scoring goals was something I really missed.”
Once the reality set in after his accident, Dagenais realized he needed to set new goals in life. And the answer was following his passions.

‘’Sport is important for my well-being, for my attitude and for being a happy person. It made a huge difference.’’

Heading into his third Paralympic Games, Dagenais is one of the leaders of the team – co-captain alongside Trevor Hirschfield – and young players now seek his wisdom or follow his example on and off the court.

‘’One of my strengths on the court is maintaining my calmness,’’ said the London 2012 Games silver medallist. ‘’I think when the young players see that they realize the importance of maintaining your focus in order to perform well. 

‘’We have a few veterans on the team and we are like big brothers. It’s a great mix for success.’’ 

For more stories about Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympians, visit

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