Instructor Feature – Tommy Carroll
For the past 14 years Tommy Carroll, an Ignite Adaptive Sports Instructor, has been finding peace through teaching, on the slopes of Eldora. Carroll has created a life for himself which fits perfectly with his greatest talent: kinetics. As a designer of prosthetics, Carroll is a beloved member of Ignite Adaptive Sports, specializing in fit of adaptive equipment. Each year, Carroll and his fellow Veterans go to the Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass. “Vets tend to gravitate towards each other, and being an amputee myself, as well as dealing with traumatic brain injuries and closed head injuries, I’d say a day with other vets just makes everything flow easier,” Carroll says.
Back on July 7th, 1990, Carroll was in a motorcycle accident in Pennsylvania, which landed him in a coma. “My accident was bad. I was in the hospital for three months. I had fused vertebrae, metal in my left forearm and hip, my left leg was gone,” Carroll shares. “I had to relearn everything. I relearned who everybody was: my Mom, my Dad, myself. How to talk and eat again, everything.”
This accident was a major game changer for Carroll, but instead of being limited by his disabilities, he managed to utilize them towards helping others. “Because of my closed head injury, I do not remember people’s names. It just doesn’t stay with me,” Carroll says. “My memory is through kinetic movement. If it moves, if I can manipulate it some way or another, I’ll remember it. But other than that, I’m like … squirrel!”
The supervisors at Ignite rely on Carroll’s meticulous skill to fit chairs onto students, or fit ski boots perfectly onto prosthetic limbs. “John (Ignite’s Snowsports Director) doesn’t give me anything to do,” Carroll says, “he banks on my [attention to detail] taking over and because of my experience in the prosthetic world, he knows I will take initiative to utilize the talents I have, which other people up here may not possess.”
Carroll is part of a wonderful group of volunteers, over 248 and growing, which are specially trained to help people with all types of disabilities enjoy the world of snowsports. “The community of people here are a family, and I’m definitely the middle child,” Carroll shares. “All the volunteers up here are a big melting pot of talents. The work we do is coming from our hearts and is part of our lifestyle. It still amazes me that we are able to get everything done, and everything done right.”