Alberta junior men’s skip sees past colour-blindness
Colin Hodgson discovered early on that he would be doing his best work with either a curling rock or a baseball in his hand, but not a crayon.
As an elementary school student, the 20-year-old Airdrie resident, who’ll lead his Calgary-based team into the M and M Meat Shops Canadian junior curling championships beginning Saturday at the North Hill and Glencoe clubs, always had troubles with projects that required artwork.
“I got all my assignments back with title pages and I got one or zero out of five on all of them, because I couldn’t tell the colours,” recalled Hodgson, who’ll be backed up in the nationals by third Michael Ng, second Parker Konschuh and lead Derek Clark. “I would take a brown crayon and think it was green.”
Eventually, he was diagnosed with a form of colour-blindness called dichromasy, which hampers his ability to see the full spectrum of colours, and it means that at a distance, colours tend to blend together.
That can be a hindrance for a curler sitting in the hack, staring down the sheet at a house full of rocks and trying to figure whose are whose.
Fortunately, Hodgson, an accomplished baseball player in the summer who plays at the senior AAA level in Red Deer, was blessed with the ability to memorize rock placements and see them in his mind even while at the other end of the sheet — an ability that failed him just once, that he can remember.
“The last time I can remember was at the Canada Games (in 2007 in Whitehorse), when we were on TSN of all things, and I made a really stupid comment,” recalled Hodgson. “I think we were sitting three and I was like, ‘Why don’t we just hit and roll to the pin?’ But the other team didn’t have any rocks in the house. Yelling that down (to Joel Peterman) seemed a little odd. He was like, ‘Colin, that’s our rock. You’re colour blind.’ It was a little embarrassing.”
All’s well that ends well; the Alberta team beat an Ontario squad that featured Mat Camm, who’ll be skipping Ontario this week at the junior nationals, in the gold-medal game.
Four years later, Hodgson — whose opening-day assignments Saturday at the Glencoe are Northern Ontario’s Cody Johnston at 2 p.m. and Mani- toba’s Sam Good at 6:30 p.m. — is back with a new team for a second, and final, crack at a national junior title after throwing second stones for Aaron Sluchinski in 2008.
Ng and Clark also a remaking their second trips to the nationals, after making the playoffs in 2009 with Kevin Yablonski, while Konschuh is a rookie.
“I think the last time around we were kind of surprised that we made it to nationals, and it was just a really big cherry on top of a good season,” said Clark. “But this year, we kind of feel like we have some unfinished business, that we can go to nationals and do well.”
“I think we have a good chance, to be honest,” added Ng. “I’m pretty confident. And I’m going into it with a really positive attitude. Whatever happens happens, but I think we have the ability to win it.”
To earn a trip to the world juniors in Perth, Scotland, not only will they have to conquer a tough field, they’ll also have to deal with the pressure, and distractions, of playing at home in front of family and friends.
“I have a humongous family,” said Clark with a laugh. “I have around 85 aunts, uncles and cousins, all from around Strathmore and Rockyford, so I think I’ll have a lot of fans coming out. But I don’t think it’ll be that bad for us; they’re there to support us, and that’s the mentality we have to take.”
“They’re there to support us,” said Hodgson. “But at the same time, we have a mission.”