|Larry seen right|
Larry Schrader started wheelchair curling simply because he was looking for a winter activity - only to end this season as a Canadian champion.
Schrader played lead on Darwin Bender's Callie team that also includes third Gil Dash and second Marie Wright and co-coaches Bob Capp and Lorraine Arguin. Bender's squad captured Saskatchewan's first national wheelchair championship in Thunder Bay, Ont., by beating Alberta's Bruno Yizek 7-6 in the final on March 25.
Schrader was a veteran baseball umpire in Regina until losing the lower portion of his right leg in August of 2009. Schrader, who is a Type 2 diabetic, developed a blister on his right foot while on vacation in Las Vegas. By the time he had returned to Regina, infection had already set in. He developed blood poisoning and doctors were forced to amputate his right leg approximately six inches below the knee.
"I can do everything I did before, only a little slower,'' Schrader said.
Schrader was taking part in his rehabilitation at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre when he noticed an announcement about tryouts for wheelchair curling.
"I had bowled three times a week before I lost my leg and it just didn't work after that,'' Schrader said. "I needed something to do for the winter. I tried wheelchair curling and the people were really nice. They had good coaches and we curled every Monday night in the able-bodied league. I just kept doing that.''
Schrader, who is a guard at the Regina Correctional Centre, said being active in golf and now curling has helped him deal with being an amputee.
"Winning the nationals has allowed me to meet some interesting people and they all have positive things to say,'' Schrader said. "It's just a whole lot of fun.''
Schrader has a prosthesis, which allows him to walk. Wheelchair curling is open to amputees and those who need to be in a wheelchair, but the rules stipulate that each participant must curl in a wheelchair. That creates an interesting contrast when Schrader walks into a curling club pushing his wheelchair.
"A lot of people look at me and they think it's something that I can walk and I can get out of my chair,'' said the 57-year-old Schrader. "That makes me feel bad for them. When I got to the Wascana to see my doctor and I look at the people in there - I realize that I'm so much luckier than they are.''
Bender, 48, has been in a wheelchair since being injured in a motor-vehicle accident 30 years ago.
He said one of the misconceptions about wheelchair curling is that participants have to be wheelchair-bound.
"You have to deliver the rocks from a wheelchair,'' Bender said. "You can't have any appendages on the ice while doing that and that means anyone with a disability can play. There are people with knee and hip replacements, who can't ablebody curl, but can play the game of wheelchair curling.''
There isn't any sweeping in wheelchair curling. All of the players use a stick, but their deliveries are limited by the fact they are in a seated position. Curlers depend on timing the running of the stone between the hoglines to determine how hard to deliver it.
"Our delivery is basically a foot or whatever the extension of your arm is,'' Bender said.
Schrader and Bender were both excited about winning a national championship. They hope their accomplishment will raise the profile of wheelchair curling.
The championship has also led to other opportunities. Schrader said the team has been invited to a tryout camp later this year in Richmond, B.C., to determine the Canadian wheelchair curling team.
"Who knows? Maybe one of us could be picked to be on that team,'' Schrader said.
Read more: http://www.leaderpost.com/Schrader+rolls+wheelchair+curling/6395467/story.html#ixzz1qspYNJsF