​Finding a Hobby as a Quadriplegic

Posted by Zack Collie in Life After Paralysis on February 14, 2022 # Lifestyle

Zack at a UFC eventGrowing up, I never watched sports. Neither of my parents was into sports, so Sunday football was never a thing in my family. I played some sports as a child but not the typical mainstream ones. I was a very active and energetic child. I always went from one thing to the next and had to always be doing something. Before my accident, I did karate as a kid, took boxing classes, surfed, rode dirt bikes, and snowboarded. After I broke my neck and became a quadriplegic, all of the hobbies I enjoyed doing I could no longer do. Everything I did required using my body and physical abilities. A lot of my friends were into sports and watched them during the weekends. I didn't know anything about the rules, so I never really enjoyed watching them. Also, not having cable made it difficult to watch live sports events.

A few years after my injury, I realized I needed to find a new hobby and have a way to connect with others. I was craving connection and knew I could find that through sports. So, I picked a sport that I was interested in, picked a team, and started watching football. Football was a sport that always interested me, even though I never played it growing up. I knew I wanted to watch something that was fast-paced and had action. After watching football for a while and getting into it, I wanted to find another sport to be into.

Living in Orange County, I wanted to find a local team I could represent. There was the Angels baseball team, and I live pretty close to the Angel's Stadium, but I was never into baseball. My other option was the Anaheim Duck's Hockey team. They played at the Honda Center, which is right across the street from the Angel's Stadium. I had never watched hockey before, but as I started watching it. I loved that it was fast-paced, aggressive, and legal for players to fight each other. So, I became a Duck's hockey fan and started going to games at the Honda Center. The energy that erupts at a live hockey game when the home team scores are amazing. I became addicted to that Zack and friend holding a UFC signfeeling and started going to games.

A very close childhood friend of mine is into a sport called the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). I had known about UFC growing up but didn’t watch it much. As I grew older and started looking for a sport that I really felt drawn to, I watched UFC with my friend and knew this was my sport of choice. For some reason, I have always been drawn to action and violence. The dopamine rush I feel when watching two of the best martial artists in the world get locked into a cage and fight makes me feel alive. I see part of myself in those people. They are like modern-day gladiators. I am a fighter, and so are they. The only difference is mine is mental, and theirs is physical. I have been watching UFC for the past few years and have truly fallen in love with the sport.

Every time I watch UFC, I get an indescribable feeling throughout my body. Sometimes I even get emotional. Seeing two top-level athletes fight each other and then hug one another after amazes me. Usually, these UFC events are held in Las Vegas or another state. This past UFC event, UFC 270, was at the Honda Center, which is in the city I live. Experiencing a live UFC event is hard to put into words. The electricity and energy that radiates through the crowd send goosebumps down my body. I feel alive and want to jump out of my chair. Finding a sport to follow and become a fan of has given me something to focus on and enjoy with other people. If you are reading this and have been wanting to connect with other people or want to find a new hobby. I would highly suggest finding a sport that you enjoy watching. It has made a big difference in my life.

Zack Collie is living with quadriplegia and was paralyzed in 2010 diving under a wave at Newport Beach breaking his C-4 vertebrae. Zack started a YouTube channel to spread awareness about spinal cord injuries and his life living as one. His mother, Amber Collie, is also a regular blogger for the Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.