Visually-impaired Never Lose Sight of Their Goals

Brian Belfry, Record staff
Tue Feb 14 2012

Champions Team Ontario from K-W Granite Club were winners of the Canadian Visually-impaired curling championship in Ottawa last week. The team includes (back row, left) Tim Prohaszka, Carrie Speers and on-ice guide Dan Prohaszka, (front row from left) Dr. Jim Stephens, coach Wendy Simpson, Norm Green and Doug Boucher.
Andre Martin

After Tim Prohaszka’s opponents extended their hands conceding defeat in the Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championships in Ottawa last Friday, the skip had just one thought in mind.

“My first reaction was to go over to Dr. Jim because I had to see the new champion,” Prohaszka said.

Dr. Jim Stephens was the lead for the rink competing as Team Ontario in the White Cane bonspiel last week.

“We knew we had to go and win this thing for Dr. Jim,” Prohaszka said, “(He’s) eighty-four years old, totally blind and a great passion for the game. That was our goal.”

The rest of the newly crowned national champions include vice Norm Green, Carrie Speers and Doug Boucher (the last two alternating as second). Visually-impaired curling teams also have an on-ice guide and coach with those roles filled by Dan Prohaszka (Tim’s brother) and Wendy Simpson, respectively.

One player on each team competing has to be totally blind, the rest are legally blind with 10 per cent or less vision. Prohaszka lost most of his sight three years ago.

Team Ontario dominated during the bonspiel with a 6-1 record in round-robin play then an 11-0 blowout of Nova Scotia in the semifinal. It set up a final against seven-time defending champion Team Canada skipped by Dean Martell of Kelowna B.C., It was Prohaszka’s only loss during the round robin.

“I knew we had to keep them from getting a big end,” he said. “We kept the pressure on him. That worked in our favour. That was our plan.”

It was dominating once again with Team Ontario winning 11-3.

The Prohaszka family has long been competitive curlers. Tim, 56, played in the Ontario Tankard back in 1985. He heard about the visually-impaired curling program at the K-W Granite Club after his sister had played in a bonspiel there.

“I contacted the curling club and they said ‘Yep, it would be great to have you out.’ So my brother Dan volunteered to drive me every week and ended up being our on-ice guide. It made it great having both of us there playing with such great people.”

Prohaszka never thought he could be a national champion.

“But it’s nice to say and hear,” he said.


The number of schools participating in the Ontario University curling championships took another leap this year with a total of 27 teams — 14 women’s and 13 men’s — descending on Guelph Curling Club starting Thursday and ending Monday. The University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo are all contenders in both genders. Last season both men’s and women’s teams from Guelph and Laurier went on to the CIS championships.

Read more about the OUAs online at my In The House blog.


K-W Granite Club was host to the Region 3 Stick playdowns late last week. Winner A side is K-W Granite Club’s Bryan Hawkins with Ed Ferguson, Wayne Short and David Cain. The second qualifier is Guelph Curling Club skipped by Bruce Jeffrey with Bruce Folkard, Fred Osburn and Rod Stork. It’s a wait for the provincials. They are in Navan April 1.

Grimsby’s Chelsea Brandwood was Ontario bantam girls champion and Sarnia’s Doug Kee won the bantam boys title at Galt Curling Club on the weekend.

Colts/Trophy are on this weekend in Fergus. Sandra McFadden (Arthur), Colleen Coglin (Elmira), Suzanne Frick (Guelph), Mary Patterson (KW), Kathy Ryan (KW) and Courtney Hodgson (Guelph) compete in Trophy. Dave Kaun (KW), Bruce McConnell (KW), Trevor Feil (Elora), Jeff Beath (Elora), Rick Marshall (Fergus) Mark Landoni (Fergus), Jeff Renwick (KW), Brent Gray (KW) and Bruce Archer (Galt).

Reproduced from–visually-impaired-neve