You could say curling is in 15 year old Matt Hass' blood. His aunt and uncle are part of a curling team and Matt? Well, he just loves it too, so he joined Wausau West's curling team.
"I just had to talk to the coach and then we had to like accommodate with getting onto the ice..." said Hass.
While Matt is like anyone else on the team, he's dealing with a disability called Spina Bifida that's left him in a wheelchair. "I'm paralyzed from my waste down so I can't feel my legs," said Hass, but you better believe the disability isn't stopping this young man from heading out onto the ice and throwing rocks.
"Matt is very motivated and he seems very excited about curling," said Wausau West Head Curling Coach, Jim Wendling.
Matt is Wausau West's first wheelchair curler. Wendling says, "It's been very good to get him out here and hopefully many others can follow."
Wendling says Matt approached him in the fall with an interest in curling, so he made it happen, calling up one of the coaches for the U.S. Paralympic Curling Team. "We went down to Madison and learned from the Olympic curlers themselves, which was a very cool experience," said Wendling. It was an opportunity to learn from the best and Matt loved every bit of it.
To be a curler, adjustments also had to be made to Matt's wheelchair. "This is basically just PVC pipe that we just decorated it and then my dad added the wood and this, it's velcro on there and then my curling stick it's just a regular painter's stick, and then this end is like $260 bucks," said Hass.
He can actually throw the rocks, thanks to the help of his fellow Warriors. Hass said, "They help me get the rock in the position and they tell me like when I can push the rock and they just help so I get like the best shots I can." Coach Wendling said, "They're doing fabulous and I appreciate everything they done."
But at the end of the day, Matt is teaching his fellow Warriors, his coaches...
"Just cooperation, working with others, determination to do stuff, not letting obstacles stand in your way, doing what you have to do to get out there and making the best of your situation," said Coach Wendling.
... Even the Greater Wausau Area about so much more than just curling.
Hass said, "Even though I have a disability I'm still able to do what other people can do."
He's teaching us all that he can be apart of a curling team too, just like anyone else.http://gray-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/captures/743/E9D/743E9D27C7BA4DE1A65D4EA0B3F19DB3.mp4