Michael Hubbs first discovered his passion for speed skating at the Westlake Skate Center in Mesquite, Texas, when he was ten years old. From there on, he poured everything he had into inline speed skating until circumstances forced him to give it up for several years. Now, at age thirty, Hubbs is back and training to be the first deaf speed skater in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Born deaf in Omaha, Nebraska, Hubbs grew up in Dallas with his younger sister, also born deaf. His grandmother raised him in place of an absent mother and a homeless father; however, not knowing sign language limited her ability to communicate with her grandchildren. Without that guidance, Hubbs fell in with the wrong crowd, dabbling in drugs and gang activity.
Nevertheless, he continued to train and compete in speed skating any way he could, even borrowing friends’ skates when his family could not afford professional-grade skates. By age sixteen, Hubbs had attracted the attention of an inline speed skating coach, who invited him to train at the Olympic Center in Colorado Springs. However, his father opted to transfer him to the Texas School for the Deaf, where he would not be able to train in speed skating. As a result, Hubbs stopped speed skating for several years.
In lieu of speed skating, Hubbs took up swimming, which he continued into his college years at Gallaudet. Despite winning the Texas State Championship and breaking several collegiate records, Hubbs had no passion for that sport, so he quit in 2007. After earning his MBA in Business Administration and Management at Gallaudet, Hubbs relocated to Georgia, where he ran his own business buying and selling used cars.
In 2010, Hubbs reignited an old friendship with Olympics inline speed skater Jordan Malone, who asked him if he was still skating. The question forced Hubbs to reflect on his life, especially his passion for speed skating. After some deliberation, Hubbs returned to inline speed skating in May 2010. Even though he had not skated for ten years, Hubbs skyrocketed to professional-level skating within a matter of months.
After a discussion with his head coach, Hubbs decided to switch to ice skating in July 2010. To that end, he sold everything he owned and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, to train in the Olympic Oval. Though the transition was frustratingly challenging, within a year Hubbs had broken his personal records by a wide margin and placed in two major competitions. In August 2012, Hubbs relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to train at the Pettit National Ice Center with the goal of competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Hubbs can be found on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow his progress, donate to his cause, or buy T-shirts from his website at http://www.michaelwhubbs.com.