Goalie Joanne Lukasik offers inspiration between the pipes
Joanne Lukasik, who has been a hockey goaltender for more than 50 years, credits her love of the game for getting her through difficult times that could have easily defeated her.
Lukasik, who grew up on a farm near Belmont, Ontario, was a competitive goaltender at age 16 on the Belmont girls’ team. Like all farm kids, she worked at many different chores including around some big machinery. One day, while unloading corn from a large wagon into a silo feeder in which a powerful fan blows the corn up into the silo, she slipped and fell into the hopper. The feed auger pushed her into the fan blades, which amputated her legs below the knees.
For some, this would have been a totally devastating accident. Not for Joanne.
“I was always positive,” she said. “I was determined to get back to school, to hang out with my friends and to get back on the ice. Some doctors said no way for hockey. But one said, if that was my goal, to go for it. I was back in the net in less than a year. I just had no time to feel sorry for myself.”
Joanne said she had total family and community support during her recovery, whether it was help at school or getting her to and from the ice rink.
Her advice to others suffering handicaps: “Don’t let fear or anyone limit your dream. Follow your passion. There is no limit to what you can accomplish.”
Joanne has been active in the Michigan Senior Women’s Hockey League since the very early years as a player, coach, past president and all-around booster. This year was her first to win the Ruicci Cup.
“As a player I have come in second and have won it once as a coach,” she said. “But this is the first time to hold it up as a winning player.”
The MSWHL is focused on having fun. Joanne described a game in which some opposing players fell on her inside the goal and twisted one of her prosthetic legs off.
Upon seeing the leg pointing off at an impossible angle, the other players totally freaked out. “Don’t move!” they screamed. “Stay still! Call ER!!” To which Joanne calmly said, “Just get off me so I can put my leg back on, and we can start playing again.”
For her day job Joanne is a CPA. Her son, David, and his wife will make Joanne a hockey grandma later this year.