‘It’s my dream’: Nova Scotia’s Emma Logan wants to encourage more deaf people to curl

A deaf Nova Scotia curler is looking to raise awareness of the sport as an option for people with hearing problems.

Emma Logan, 26, lost her hearing at 13 months due to meningitis. She has been curling since she was 11 years old. She is an elite player, and represented Nova Scotia at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 2020 and 2021.

“For deaf and hard of hearing youth, this is something I would like to see more attention to,” Logan said. “There isn’t any program for it here on the East Coast, but my dream is to see it come true.”

Logan uses a hearing aid and had a cochlear implant when she was three years old. Using these devices helped her play in traditional bands.

Communication is a vital part of curling, especially considering how noisy the rinks can be and the distance between team members.

The Nova Scotia curling team makes history with its first deaf athlete

Skip Mary Ann Arsenault and her team are headed to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Only in the past decade has Logan learned that curling is an option for teams made up of deaf players.

Teams use a combination of sign language, hand signals, and lip-reading to communicate with each other.

Logan is a skip from the national team that was supposed to go to the Deaf Winter Olympics next month in Turkey, but the Canadian Deaf Sports Association has withdrawn Canada’s participation due to geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East.

Although there is a national deaf sports association, some provinces have regional deaf sports associations, such as Alberta and Manitoba.

“The further east you go, the less presence the regional body has,” Logan said.

Logan said playing on teams that include hearing athletes and deaf athletes is a different experience.

Nova Scotia's Emma Logan appears during the first tie against the Northwest Territories in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., on Saturday, February 15, 2020.
Logan has been curling since she was 11 years old. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

“When I partner with hearing athletes, I feel like I’m constantly trying to figure out how I can keep up with those who can receive and give communications so easily,” she said. “For me, there is a clear gap in the information that I can get naturally or through traditional means of communication, so we as a team are trying to fill that gap.”

Logan has nothing but good words for her former teammates, noting that they were always patient, kind and understanding.

Team Nova Scotia's Gill Brothers, center, shoots past Team Northern Ontario's second place finisher Jennifer Bryan, left, leads Emma Logan in a sweep of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.
Logan, right, is shown at the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. She has twice represented Nova Scotia in the tournament. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

But with her deaf teammates, there is a deeper connection.

“To be able to enjoy the game to the extent that I do, along with three women who shared their experiences with being deaf and hard of hearing, is a place to really connect with the sport and beyond,” she said.

“It added a whole other layer of meaning to the game.”

Working to diversify sports

Virginia Jackson, executive director of the Nova Scotia Curling Association, said the organization is trying to make the sport more inclusive. She said they have players ranging in age from 5 to 95, and are working with marginalized groups, such as Black and Indigenous communities, to make the sport more inclusive.

“There may be people who have certain limitations that they feel like they can’t participate in, and curling is one sport that we can accommodate,” she said.

If people have restrictions, they should contact the association, which will find an option for them, Jackson said. She said there are 33 curling clubs in the county.

“They will welcome them and do everything they can to make the experience a positive one for anyone,” she said.

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