Jacob Wassermann: Rebirth of an Athlete

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A few months ago, many of you were moved after we shared the inspiring story of Ryan Straschnitzki, the hockey player from Airdrie, AB who was paralyzed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash a year ago. We decided to keep on documenting the inspiring story of the Broncos crash survivors with, this time, the story of Jacob Wassermann.

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year when the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi-truck collided in Saskatchewan. Since the tragedy that made him lose the use of his legs, Jacob Wassermann practised sledge hockey.

However, he discovered a different sport last summer: water skiing, a sport he says he has never practised before the accident. Adapted water skiing is practised on a specially modified board with a seat on which the skier is attached.

“I’ve fallen in love with this, that’s for sure,” says the young man from Saskatoon. “Before my accident, I had no idea adaptive water-skiing was even a thing to do.”

Wassermann was introduced to the sport by current national team member Nolan Barnes, who was paralyzed in a car accident nine years ago.

“I had a lot of support when I was injured and knew how much of a difference that made in my life — having some light at the end of the tunnel,” Barnes, 27, explained. He says he understands why Wasserman is so passionate about this water sport: “Getting out of a wheelchair for a second and ripping up and down the lake and feeling the freedom — you don’t really feel disabled sitting out on the ski”.

And Jacob’s talent looks promising. After a successful competition in April, the national team decided to bring it to the IWWF World Disabled Waterski Championships from July 22nd to July 28th in Norway.

“They were able to bring me on as a prospect; just to get a feel for it and to see what the adaptive water-ski world is like. Hopefully, in the future, I can ski on to the team as an actual member.”

Barnes said he’s not surprised at his protégé’s quick progress: “He’s driven and he wants to do really well. I’m just glad to be part of that journey and hopefully, he and I will be sitting on the podium someday.”

In the meantime, Wasserman plans to start studying in the fall to become a nutritionist.

Norm Assiff

Norm Assiff

Norm was awarded the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association (ACTLA) President's Award for 2012--awarded to a member of the Alberta bar who has distinguished himself or herself by his or her contribution to the profession or the community, the advancement of the law or their service to ACTLA. He has appeared at all levels of court in Alberta (Provincial Court, Queen's Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeal) as well as the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Federal Court of Appeal.

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