The Burn with Ben Newman: Episode 11 with Josh Pauls

USA Sled Hockey Josh Pauls

Josh Pauls is the definition of an All-American story.⁠⠀
He was born without tibia bones and had both legs amputated at just 10 months old.⁠⠀
Josh found his BURNING passion for sled hockey at a young age and never looked back.⁠⠀
He is a Three-time USA Paralympian (2010,2014,2018) ⁠⠀
with 3 Gold Medals!⁠⠀
He credits his “No excuses” mentality on how his parents raised him and the support system that he grew up around.

Full Interview with Josh Pauls and Ben Newman


Intro-Josh Pauls:         But I think that really started with my parents and the way they brought me up.  It was never, oh, well, Josh Pauls, you don’t have your legs on. It was, well, you better go put your legs on and go take out the garbage.  So, it started from that support system and, you know, whether that’s your parents, your friends, your family, anybody around you, it’s finding those people that you can surround yourself with that are positive thinkers that aren’t going to complain a ton., that are just gonna find ways to help you get better. (Opening music)

Ben Newman: Welcome back to another episode of The Burn.  You know, it’s awesome in life having the opportunity to meet individuals that inspire you.  And I had a dear friend of mine, Brian Roberts, recently introduce me Josh Pauls Pauls.  And Josh Pauls and I got together and we were fast friends and his story is pure inspiration.  Josh Pauls is a Paralympic hockey player for the United States.  And it’s incredible what he has accomplished in the game of hockey.  So a four time world champion, three time Olympic gold medalist, and he is the captain of the team.  So you talk about hard work.  You talk about leadership.  It’s incredible what you’ve accomplished.  And what I really love is your fire and your passion.  And that’s really this show is about.  It’s about that burn.  It’s about what really fuels inside and what I really gathered from our first opportunity to meet, right…

Josh Pauls:      Mm-hm.

Ben Newman: …where we became fast friends.  It felt like I’d known you a long time and the inspiration comes from hearing you talk about how you work and the amount of time you’ve put into the weight room.  One of the things that I pulled, which was extraordinary, was just your hand-eye coordination work.  Right.  And just how specific and detailed you are and I think for individuals to do that in life, it takes an internal burn, right?

Josh Pauls:      Mm-hm.

Ben Newman: It takes fighting through challenge.  It takes fighting through adversity.  And to top off all of this, right, all of this hardware which is very, very heavy, you just got engaged.  So, congratulations.  You got a wedding coming in conjunction with being a champion on the ice and, so, could be any more excited to have this opportunity to spend this time with you.  And so, tell everybody about your burn.  Where does the passion come from?  Where does that burn lie for you?

Josh Pauls:      You know, Ben Newman, I think over the course of my career and even over the course of growing up, I think, the burn has kind of changed a little bit as I’ve gotten older.  So, you know, when I first started playing floor hockey, my burn was really just finding something I could be competitive in.  And, you know, my gym teachers in school, they gave me all these outlets to be able to play and participate, but I never could find something because nothing was ever tailored to me to be able to excel at something.  I was never gonna outrun all the kids with real legs.  I was never gonna even be able to play hockey better than them, even if it was floor hockey just because of, you know, my natural disadvantage.  But, you know, it first started when I really wanted to find something, a competitive outlet.  I wanted to find something that I loved to do and I found it in hockey.  You know, as I started getting a little older, getting a little stronger, playing hockey for longer, I realized making the national team was an option.  And, so then my burn changed to I want to make this team.

So it was working out, it was taking, you know, my weight lifting class throughout high school to try to find a way to get better, even if I wasn’t able to devote time because I had a high school schedule.  So, it was finding those little ins and outs and those opportunities I could get better.  So, whether it was working out or getting extra ice time aside from my team practices, it was finding a way to be able to separate myself from the pack.  And to be able to be the youngest player on the national team when we won our first world championship and then the second Para-Olympic gold medal the U.S. has ever won in 2010, that was a real strong burn for me to be a part of that team.  Especially because right before Vancouver, I got cut and to be able to find a way not to sulk, not to pout, not to sit there and go, well, there’s always next year, I found a way to say, you know what?  I’m gonna prove them wrong and I’m gonna make the either eat their mistake or they’re just gonna realize that they shouldn’t have done it.  And so, as I started getting older and started staying on the national team, my dream kind of changed and my passions kind of change.  It didn’t change from well, I just want to win gold medals.   I’ve always wanted to help the team win, but it change from just making the team to excelling and being one of the top players on the team.

So, my motivation was I need to find ways that I can differentiate myself from being just a third line row, a support player.  I want to be one of the top players in the world.  And that became my motivation right about up until I became team captain before the 2018 season.  And then, my motivation, my burn came from having so many players on the team that had never experienced the feeling and the absolute joy of winning a gold medal, throwing your helmet off, dog piling because, I mean, as any celebration, it’s a fun, big pile of everybody.  But in sleds, it’s even tougher because you’re strapped into this chariot more or less and you’re trying to dog pile on everybody, and there are sticks and hands, and heads flying everywhere.  And I’m sure we’ve all taken a couple of bumps and bruises from the celebration, but it was making sure that those other players that had never experienced it, got to feel that feeling.  Because I know that it’s just something that it’s so hard to describe.  It’s so fun to do and it’s something that I wanted for everybody else on the team because I know they worked just as hard as I do and they have the same motivations.  They have family that would fly all the way over to South Korea to come watch us play.  And, so the burn, for me, has changed throughout that and now the burn’s kind of taken as, it’s kind of a I want to spread my story and I want help motivate people and inspire people to not just sit here and go, wow, that’s really cool that he’s won a lot.  It’s what can I take from that and use it in my own life so that I can have more success.

Ben Newman: And that’s one of the reasons why we’re so excited to have you on our team of speakers and the opportunity to partner with organizations that we partner with to share that message and inspiration.  And one of the things that I’ve picked on with you, I would consider it a no excuses mentality.  And it’s one thing for somebody to say I want to win a n Olympic gold medal.  It’s one thing to day I want to lead, I want to become better, I want to become the best in the world.  But when you think of that no excuses mentality, what does that mean to you?

Josh Pauls:      You know, as far as no excuses go, I mean, I think it starts with just not complaining about things.  ‘Cause you really can never control everything around you, but you can control your effort.  You can control your reactions at different events.  You can control your attitude and the no excuses, I mean, there’s never an excuse not to do something.  Sure, the forces may have not have wanted me to make the team right before Vancouver.  They may have wanted me to work harder to find a way to claw back on to that team.  And it’s just finding ways to go about it and to beat those odds.  It’s putting in that extra effort.  It’s not giving up.  An excuse is something that you find when you don’t really want to do something.  And if there’s something that you truly want to do, you’ll find any excuse to not give up.  It’s just something that it’s so hard to describe because I’ve just never really – I’ve never tried to even think about it, just not about having any excuse.  But I think that really started with my parents and the way they brought me up.  It was never, oh, you don’t have your legs on.  I’ll have somebody else take the garbage out.  It was, well, you better go put your legs on and go take out the garbage.

So, it started from that support system and, you know, whether that’s your parents, your friends, your family, it’s finding those people that you can surround yourself with that are positive thinkers that aren’t gonna complain a tone, that are just gonna find ways to help you get better and that’s probably one of the biggest things that – I don’t want to say, necessarily, I was shocked with, but when I first met you, you were so willing to say, hey, let’s do this.  Let’s do this.  You were so willing to give advice and it’s those kind of people that you want to surround yourself with and you just want to be able to interact and talk with on a, you know, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis just to find that extra inspiration.  Because, you know, every once in a while, sometimes you get burned out and I’ve gotten burned out after seasons.  I’ve thought about not playing, but you talk to other people and then you find that you get that flame lights again.  And then…

Ben Newman: Yep.

Josh Pauls:      …you start adding that fire to the flame yourself.  And then you’re sitting there going, yeah, this is something I really want to do.

Ben Newman: So, if you were to share, to wrap up, if you were to share a piece of advice, so there’s a child right now in school that’s being challenged by a gym teacher or there’s a child who’s being challenged by their parents, right…

Josh Pauls:      Mm-hm.

Ben Newman: …so, you think of what you had to do to take the garbage out, right, and there’s kids complaining about taking the garbage out, right?

Josh Pauls:      Mm-hm.

Ben Newman: And there’s not the disadvantage as you’ve mentioned.

Josh Pauls:      Yeah.

Ben Newman: And what a blessing from your parents to have empowered you to embrace every opportunity that was in front of you.  Whether it was playing hockey at championship level, world championship level, or taking out the trash, what would you say to those young kids who are maybe complaining, right, for them to embrace their opportunity?

Josh Pauls:      You just got to embrace the challenge.  And, you know, when I was in school, I always would kind of get upset with school work.  It was a little too easy.  It was monotonous.  It was this is too easy; I can just fly through it, right?  And you got to love those challenges because you’re gonna be faced with them no matter where you go.  Whether it’s school, whether it’s work, whether it’s going through, you know, your higher education in college, like, nothing is ever gonna go perfectly.  I don’t think I’ve had ever in my life go exactly, 100 percent right, except maybe meeting my girlfriend, fiancée.

Ben Newman: That’s right.  You gotta get that right now.

Josh Pauls:      And I know.  She’s gonna torch me if I don’t.  But it’s you gotta embrace the challenge ‘cause it’s all around you.  It’s always gonna happen.  And if all you’re doing is sitting there going I don’t want to do this.  I’m gonna complain about this challenge, then you’re just going to be miserable through the rest of your life.  Because challenges never stop and neither should you.

Ben Newman: So, I want to share something.  I specifically said speak to a child.

Josh Pauls:      Yep.

Ben Newman: Because I think sometimes as adults…

Josh Pauls:      Mm-hm.

Ben Newman: …we try to make things to complex.  And if you really pay attention to that answer that answer’s for adults.  That answer is for children.  It’s for all of us and  I think there’s so much truth there is to embrace that challenge for what it is ‘cause we’re always gonna have it.  And so, continue to inspire me.  Keep writing your story.  It is just awesome to see your leadership.  It’s awesome to see your passion.  It’s awesome to see your work ethic and know that you inspire me and to have the opportunity to give, this is definitely iron sharpens iron.  I appreciate it and appreciate you taking the time to share the burn and also very appreciative of your commitment to the country, to go and represent the country, and you’ve become pretty good at walking away with hardware.  So, thanks for all that you do.

Josh Pauls:      Yeah.  Thank you.


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