Captain overcomes vision impairment to lead team

Briana FioreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Calvin Rodgers is a vision-impaired lawn bowler.
Camera IconCalvin Rodgers is a vision-impaired lawn bowler.

When Calvin Rodgers was 21 years old he found himself in a horror car crash in Karratha.

His injuries were so serious that doctors did not believe he would survive.

The then Harvey teenager had been working up north with his girlfriend and awoke to find his skull fractured in 14 places.

Apart from touch, Calvin lost his senses and was left completely blind in his right eye and with just 5 per cent of his vision in his left eye.

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Now at 41 years of age, Calvin is paving the way for people with disabilities in sport and is the proud captain at the Harvey Bowling Club.

Calvin has played at the club for 10 years and said he felt accepted by the Harvey community.

“I live in Australind now, however I chose to play in Harvey because everyone knows my story and it is easier to fit in,” Calvin said.

He also has strong family ties to the club — his grandfather Harry was the former greens keeper and his uncle Martin was one of the best players to brace the Harvey greens.

Despite his vision impairment, Calvin is still a talented sportsman. He holds a club championship and does not let his disability hold him back.

He can vaguely see the lines on the greens and uses the bowling mat to gain his positioning. Someone on the other end tells him how far the jack is and he uses muscle memory to take his shot.

Calvin Rodgers lost his sight after an accident two decades.
Camera IconCalvin Rodgers lost his sight after an accident two decades. Credit: Picture: Briana Fiore

“My ears become my eyes, they relay the message to my muscles,” Calvin said.

“If anything I believe it gives me an advantage.”

Calvin is so comfortable at the club that he does not use a walking aid.

“You get pretty good at navigating through obstacles after a while.

“But, if something is moved then I usually bump into it.”

Calvin has such a good shot that not everyone believes he has a vision impairment.

“We try and let other teams know about my situation, but at one country week an opponent tossed the jack at my groin. .

“When I didn’t catch it he knew I was not lying and he apologised profusely, it was pretty funny, I try and have a sense of humour about things like that.”

The father of two said his children had matured and had helped him as they were growing up.

“I used to walk to pick them up from school and they would have to be in-charge of saying when to cross the road and things like that,” he said.

When Calvin is not at the bowling club, he can be found in his massage practice based at home. After losing his sight, he decided to change career pathways and found his niche in remedial massage.

“Someone said I should do a massage course because my touch was my only full remaining sense.”

Calvin was a natural and graduated top of his class.

He said choosing to see the positives saved his life.

“In life, doors open and close, there is no point banging down the doors that have closed, it is better to move forward, embrace change and take hold of new opportunities,” he said.

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