GREEN BAY — If you go to the Green Bay Curling Club, you will likely find David Samsa.
“To be honest, at first I thought (the sport) was a little slow," he said. "After I learned the strategy, I was hooked.”
Samsa is on the Team USA Paralympic curling team that will be competing in Beijing next month.
“This is a sport that a wheelchair competitor can be competitive with an able body," said Samsa. "I can’t go against Michael Jordan on the basketball court — but you get another able body out here.”
If it wasn’t for a car accident in 2008, who knows if the Paralympian would have ever picked up the sport.
"Coming back from a ski trip from the UP — (a) gentleman crossed the center-line. Ended up in a car accident. I woke up a couple months later trying to figure out why the leaves were different on the trees," he said.
He suffered a torn aorta.
“When they do the heart repair, they have to cross clamp your heart, stops the flow of blood to the spine," Samsa said. "It was either die or live and be in a wheelchair. I’ll take the wheelchair.”
Samsa never worried about what happened to him, he was just glad his family was okay.
“As a parent you would never want anything to happen to your family," said the Paralympian. "I got my wish. It happened to me and not one of my two small children.”
He didn’t let the injury beat him. Just one year later, Samsa was skiing on his mono-ski.
“If there’s something he did before, he’s like, I will do it again. He’s never let his injury stop him,” said his daughter, Taylor Samsa.
Samsa says he never wallowed in self pity, or held a grudge against the driver who left him paralyzed. He didn’t have time to. He had to be a dad first and foremost. He says his children were the ones who gave him strength.
“They’re the ones that said, 'c’mon Dad lets go biking. Let’s go four-wheeling.' My daughter was drawing pictures and I was always standing in all the pictures, until one day she had a little wheelchair. I’m like, 'ah, ding light came on.' They made me strong. Like I said, no pampering — so it was cool.”
Taylor is his number one fan, following his career every step of the way.
"She knows all the stats. She knows who we're playing, where we’re going, what’s going on," said David.
While Samsa was inspired by his children, he in-turn did the same for them.
“I feel like I learned from such a young age that you might not be dealt the greatest hand and you kind of have to roll with the punches and he absolutely did,” Taylor said.
Samsa picked up curling about 10 years ago and the rest is history. He’s put in all the work to reach the highest level of the sport.
“You’re realizing what’s capable, but until they say you’ve made it – then it hits home.”
The Paralympics take place March 4-13.