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As a young boy, I would often watch my father curl and saw how much he loved the game. At the time I couldn’t imagine ever having the same love for this game, but here I am.
I first made it on the ice in 2011, starting with the junior program at the Pointe Claire Curling Club. I found myself spending more and more time at the club, often meeting my Dad after school for a quick one on one game. Within two years I caught the competitive bug and I became a member of a junior competitive team, travelling to other clubs, meeting other junior curlers, gaining more experience, and an ever-growing knowledge of the game. Curling had become a big part of my life.
As my skill level improved, I began to have a dream about what I might be able to achieve if I worked hard. Our team qualified for two junior provincial championships and I began to think I might have a bright future in Curling.
During the off-season of 2017, I joined a recreational soccer league, another game I loved to play. As in most sports that I take on I found myself playing with a similar passion while others played with the intensity of the World Cup. This combination of passion and intensity resulted in an unfortunate hit during a late season game, leaving me laying unconscious on the field. When I regained consciousness, I quickly realized that all was not right. I was in severe pain and my lower torso felt strangely numb. An ambulance was called and I was strapped to a backboard and transported to hospital. I was so concerned about what effect this might have on my upcoming curling season, I never even thought that it might be more serious than that. Life seemed to come to a screeching halt when I realized that I had no strength or movement in my legs. Days passed and I lay in my hospital bed with little ability to move my legs. Thankfully, there was feeling in my lower body so Doctors suspected I would recover. To be sure, I was transported to the Montreal Neurological Hospital for further tests. Doctors diagnosed a spinal concussion, probably the result of the impact at the base of the spine when I hit the field. They said with some time and rehab I would make a full recovery. I had some work ahead of me if I wanted to get back in the game. Many were skeptical that I could get back quickly, but I was not going to back down.
Hardline Curling learned of my story and organized a special visit while in hospital. Mike McEwen, barely an hour or so off the ice playing the Shorty Jenkins in Cornwall, popped his head in the door to say hello and needless to say, I was speechless. He didn’t just say hello however. He spent an hour with me, talking about the game, asking what my ambitions were and inspiring me to work hard to get back on the ice. At such a dark time, Mike gave me some positive motivation to get back on the ice and I will always be grateful for the visit. Before leaving, he gave me a signed jersey. I often wear it during games for good luck!
After a couple months of daily rehab, I was able to regain mobility and strength in my legs. I was out on the ice again soon after. A few slides at first but gradually I regained the strength I needed to play again. By the start of the 2018-2019 season, I was fully back to form and once again a member of a junior competitive team. We found ourselves at the Quebec Junior Provincial in January of 2019. We had a great week and found ourselves playing a provincial final for the first time. Although we did not win the final, we still had a reason to celebrate our achievement, after all, we were underdogs at this event! I was so proud of getting to this point, especially given the fact that just 15 months ago I was learning how to walk again!
I found myself looking for a sports-minded College offering a program relating to Sport and perhaps a varsity curling program. I found just the College in Toronto that fit my interests and ambition. I applied and was accepted to the three-year Sports Management program at Humber College in Toronto, starting September 2019. I attended the curling try-outs and earned a spot in the varsity team.
My first year with the team was a very successful one, winning a silver medal at the provincial and national college championships. I also received various individual accolades, including MVP and First Team All-Star at provincials, as well as Coaches Pick from the Humber Hawks. Although Curling was cancelled during my second year due to Covid-19, I look forward to a return to Varsity Curling in 2021-2022. I hope that after completing my program in 2022, I can gain employment in the Sports industry. Perhaps it might be something related to curling, who knows?
I am mindful of how lucky I am to be where I am after suffering such an injury. It will always be a reminder of how blessed I am to have the opportunities I have today, and how it is important to never take anything for granted.
From this experience I have learned to dream big, there is nothing like a memory to mark the past, and nothing like a dream to create the future.