Wheelchair Rugby Paralympian Joe Delagrave Announces Retirement

by Todd Kortemeier

Joe Delagrave competes during the men's wheelchair rugby gold-medal match against Great Britain at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 30, 2021 in Tokyo.


After eight years as team captain, two Paralympic medals and one world championship, Joe Delagrave announced his retirement from wheelchair rugby Friday.
The 36-year-old from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, was one of Team USA’s longest-tenured players, having competed in three world championships and two Paralympic Games. He discovered wheelchair rugby in 2006, two years after a boating accident in which he was paralyzed from the waist down. Previously a college football player at Winona State University in Minnesota, Delagrave loved the competition that wheelchair rugby provided.
Delagrave made his world championship debut in 2010, helping Team USA win its fourth gold medal. He then earned a spot on the Paralympic team for the Paralympic Games London 2012, where he came home with a bronze medal. Delagrave would play on the 2014 world championship team, winning bronze, but in 2016 was one of the last players cut for the Paralympic Games despite being the team captain in the previous three seasons. Delagrave rededicated himself to being a better player, teammate and leader, helping lead Team USA to bronze at the 2018 world championships and a silver this past summer at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Off the court, Delagrave works as a motivational speaker and also hosts a weekly podcast called “Captain’s Chat.” In his retirement announcement he also gave thanks to his wife of 14 years, April, and their three kids Braxton, Brayden and Brynley. Delagrave channeled his role as an inspirational speaker in closing, saying:

“As I look back, I realize that it’s the failures that have taught me the most. You see, failures are just opportunities to learn and grow if you choose to let them be! Remember, we all get a choice in our circumstances, so go out and make your choice today.”

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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