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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wheelchair Curling Rocks! NOCA Expereince

Orginal Article: http://www.northernlife.ca/blogs/Young/02-wheelchair-curling-rocks-sudbury.aspx

By: Janet Young
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to take photographs of the NOCA Provincial Wheelchair Curling Championships, which were held in Sudbury for the first time ever.

Wheelchair curling was something I hadn’t seen before and that alone was reason enough to go.

As anticipated, it proved to be a very exciting and memorable event.

MEDIchair, a locally owned home medical equipment franchise, was the title sponsor for the event and the company I work for, LifeMark Physiotherapy, was also one of the many sponsors.

Four teams were vying for the opportunity to represent northern Ontario at the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships, being held in Thunder Bay from March 18-25. The four teams were: Team Prud'homme from the Sudbury Curling Club, Team Ficek from the Kenora and Dryden Curling Clubs, and Teams Levesque and Sonego, both from the Fort William Curling Club in Thunder Bay.

Upon arriving at the rink, I sat upstairs and started to take it all in, scoping where the best vantage place to take pictures would be. There was a woman and a little boy sitting beside me. The little boy was looking down upon the rink and told me excitedly, "That's my dad!" as he pointed to Dennis Duclos of Team Prud'homme, who was taking part in a pre-game practice.

I decided I would move down to the ice to get a better view. All I had to do was stay out of the way and I could get all the pictures I wanted. It was certainly better than trying to capture the action through the plexi-glass upstairs.

From a stationary wheelchair, the curlers must propel a 40-lb. granite stone down a sheet of ice with the aid of a "delivery stick" which they use to grasp the end of the rock handle. There are no sweepers helping to direct the rock to the target (house). As one would expect, wheelchair curling takes a great amount of accuracy, strategy and skill.

After photographing the curlers for two days and studying their facial expressions and body language, I became acutely aware that these athletes were very serious about the game, and about winning. Every player was doing their best to advance their team to the national championship.

On Sunday, it was down to two teams; Team Levesque from Thunder Bay and Team Prud'homme from Sudbury. It was a hard-fought battle by both teams, but in the end, there can only be one winner and the winner was Team Levesque with a score of 7-6.

Immediately after the game, I approached the victorious team to offer my congratulations and take a photograph. I couldn't help but notice the tears in their eyes and I felt proud; not only proud of the players who had won, but because I live in a city that values inclusion for everyone.

Having a disability does not mean that your life stops. Disabled people have dreams and aspirations and they want to succeed in life and do what they love, like the rest of us.

Sarah Lashbook, a member of Team Prud'homme, is a great example of this.

I have known her for quite a few years and she never fails to inspire me with her drive and determination. She has not let being in a wheelchair stop her from following her dreams. Sarah is a married mother of two and has recently authored her first novel, "Where the Stream and Creek Collide". She has a website, which includes an interview where she explains what the book is about. Her website can be found at www.sarahlashbrook.com.

I met the owner of MEDIchair Sudbury, Norm Gervais, who is also the coach for the Sudbury team. I could tell he was proud of his team and was pleased with how well they did throughout the games.

Wheelchair curling is gaining in popularity in recent years. It offers disabled individuals an opportunity to participate in a competitive and fun sport. The Sudbury Curling Club invites anyone with a disability to come out on Sundays and try wheelchair curling for free. They are hoping to attract new members and form more teams. If you are interested in trying wheelchair curling or would like more information, phone Norm Gervais at 705-525-7442 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 705-525-7442 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

To see the pictures I took of this exciting event, visit www.janetyoungphotography.com.

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