Derek Whitson made his sledge hockey debut in 2000 with the Chatham Sledgehammers and has pretty much enjoyed success ever since. Highlights include a world junior title with Team Ontario in 2007 and the Ontario crown with the Windsor Ice Bullets in 2009. He became a national team member in 2007 and helped Canada to two gold medals at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge as well as the IPC World Championship in 2013.
Whitson was out of action for a total of two months and missed three international matches against the United States in February 2013 after undergoing surgery to remove a swollen lymph node in his hand. It had become infected by a hockey glove.
In addition to being an excellent sledge hockey player, Whitson is a goaltender with Canada’s national disabled seven-a-side soccer team. In 2007, he competed at the 2007 Para Pan Am Games (earning a bronze) and world championships.
He also hopes to be a golf professional and coach golf. Whitson, a five handicap, has worked at the Links of Kent golf course for six years and played on the Burger King Junior Golf Tour in 2007 and 2008.
In October 2009, Whitson and teammate Ray Grassi were invited to a Detroit Red Wings practice, where they got a chance to skate with some of the biggest names in the NHL.
He has worked as a recreational assistant at the Children's Treatment Centre in Chatham. An accomplished artist, Whitson has donated his artwork to support fellow athletes through the Canadian Athletes Now “Art of Believing” art auction.
Whitson, 24, was born in Chatham, Ont., with cerebral palsy, a motor condition that causes physical disability in human development.
Courtesy of the Canadian Paralympic Committee