When one of Team USA’s snowboard coaches encouraged Courtney Godfrey to take a shot at making the 2022 Paralympic team, she listed three reasons why she couldn’t do it.
“I think the direct quote was: ‘I’m old, I’m a mom, and I have a career,’” Godfrey said in an interview last November. But the 37-year-old Godfrey, who’s long had a passion for snowboarding, knew that if she passed up this opportunity, she’d probably never get another chance to compete in a Paralympic Games. So after mulling the idea over and getting an unequivocal green light from her husband, Godfrey took a leave of absence from her job as a reporter at KMSP, a Fox affiliate in Minneapolis, and began a crash course in training and competition.
Despite never having raced in her life, Godfrey piled up enough points this season to put herself in consideration for a spot on Team USA. Last week she won a silver medal in boardercross at the World Cup races in Big White, Canada, the final big international event before the Paralympics.
She’s still a longshot to make the team, which will be officially announced later this week. But whatever the outcome, Godfrey already feels the experience has been well worth it.
“I would love to take home all the medals, but what it’s really about is all the amputees who are watching at home,” Godfrey said last week. She’s heard from other amputees (especially women) who have taken her example to heart and started stretching outside their comfort zone.
Godfrey’s own comfort zone lies in investigative journalism. A graduate of Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, she migrated from CNNMoney to WDRB in Louisville to KMSP, where she’s become a core member of the nightly news team. Within months of losing her left leg below the knee in a 2017 boating accident she was back on the job, exposing malfeasance in the bail-bonds industry. A couple years later she blew the lid on a coverup in a Minnesota sheriff’s department.
Godfrey credits Minneapolis’s tight-knit limb-loss network with helping her recover so quickly. “I had no idea,” she told TwinCities.com shortly after the accident. “Minneapolis has such a great, huge amputee community, and they came out of the woodwork to welcome me.” She has returned the favor and then some, using her high public profile to normalize limb difference and raise funds for nonprofit support organizations such as Wiggle Your Toes.
“Your life isn’t over after trauma,” Godfrey says. “You can let this bring you down and take you into a deep depression, or you can try to find the good in it. I want to be an inspiration for little girls and boys who’ve just lost a limb. I can walk into their hospital room and say, ‘Your life is not over.’”