News & Events

Bill Renje's "A Chosen Bullet"

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The United States Quad Rugby Association is excited to announce the publication of A Chosen Bullet by former US Paralympian Bill Renje. Bill has generously volunteered to donate 50% of the proceeds of each book sold within the Association right back to the USQRA. We encourage you to visit his website at today to order your copy. Please enter ‘USQRA’ under Special Considerations. A Chosen Bullet chronicles Bill’s journey from being paralyzed in 1989 through winning two gold medals in the Paralympics to being a successful family and businessman today. The book touches on all aspects of his life with rugby as a constant and overarching theme. It is the culmination of twenty years of contemplation and four months of active writing. According to Bill, “Once I put pen to paper – everything flowed uninhibited from my brain where my story had been stored away in memory. Along the way, some events and experiences came back to me long since forgotten. So if nothing else, writing the book was a therapeutic experience while providing my children with their father’s memoir.”
Bill grew up in a typical middle-class family in the South Suburbs of Chicago. His youthful experimentation with drugs developed into a complete addiction by graduation and he left high school without any set plans or ambitions for his life. This all changed on June 17, 1989 when he and a friend attempted to buy drugs on a notorious corner in Robbins, IL. They happened upon a drug raid and an undercover officer shot Bill in the neck as he was driving away. Bill spent three “tough, grueling” months at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. He has kindly given us this book excerpt about his time at RIC:
“Even as daunting as the physical aspect of the rehabilitation was, the psychological and emotional recovery would be one hundred times more difficult. Rehab truly was an hour to hour, day to day recovery. There’s no looking and planning even a day down the road, let alone a week or a month. Gone was any thought of looking forward to a future. How could I think of a future involving school or work or family when I couldn’t even sit upright at a ninety-degree angle without passing out, couldn’t push a wheelchair across the room, couldn’t get out of bed to get into the wheelchair, and couldn’t get dressed to get out of bed? These were the dark times—an eighteen-year-old broken down in every way, now having to rebuild himself not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well.”
It was at RIC that Bill first learned about quad rugby. He met several of the Chicago players while he was in rehab, and started attending practices in 1991. He credits rugby and the people he met for giving him confidence and hope for the future, using his teammates as role models for what he wanted to achieve with his life. He began studying at the University of Illinois and graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and an M.S. in Journalism in 1995. After graduation he had had enough of the Chicago winters and moved to Tampa to play with the Generals in 1996. 1996 was a banner year not just for Bill but for rugby as well: the sport made its first appearance at the Paralympics in Atlanta, where Bill and the rest of Team USA won gold. He continued with Team USA for gold medals in Toronto at the 1998 World Championships and in Sydney in the 2000 Paralympics. He describes it as follows:
“Playing in the 1996 Paralympics, especially in your own country, and then again in the 2000 Paralympics was simply incredible. It’s an indescribable feeling of coming out of the tunnel during opening ceremonies to 65,000 fans chanting U-S-A, U-S-A as well as playing game after game in a sold out dome in Sydney. To the current crop of national teamers, I’d just say soak up every single minute of being, and striving to be, a member of the best team in the world in our sport. Because not too many people, in any walk of life, can say they were among, or were, the best in the world at what they do. Soak up every autograph you’re asked to give and every picture you’re asked to take with a fan because once it’s over, it’s over.”
Bill managed to find time in his busy rugby schedule to meet his wife Amy in 1999. He began a career as a commercial real estate broker in 2002 and retired from rugby in 2006 after the adoption of their son Nico from Guatemala. Their family has now grown to include two-year-old twins Noah and Daniela Renea. While Bill accomplished a great deal in his fifteen years of rugby and has an active work and family life, he still misses playing: “The camaraderie most, as well as the bonding of team sports. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to replicate that level of closeness and common shared experiences with a group of people in any other area of your life.”
When asked what advice he had for the rugby community Bill answered simply, “Strive to fulfill whatever God-given potential you have, not only on the court but off the court and in the community, your professional and family life as well.” Thank you to Bill Renje for his dedication to the sport and the league, and we wish you great success with A Chosen Bullet.


December 24, 2010 — 5:20pm