SportsArrows prop relishing new lease on life
Rising Raptor Siakam keeps ‘motor’ running
It’s not so much about getting an opportunity for many young NBA players. It’s about doing the most with it, taking a role and relishing it, gaining responsibility and not screwing it up, asking for acceptance from veteran teammates and not letting them down. And those traits are glaring when it comes to the emergence of Pascal Siakam into not only a key player for the Raptors, but a rising star in the NBA. All too often, those things don’t come to fruition. Young players can’t handle an increased role. Veteran teammates aren’t willing to cede any ground to an upstart. Careers sputter and never reach their full potential. Siakam? He got his chance and thrived.
Hard-running prop Morgan Mitchell has been a force on the field for the expansion Toronto Arrows this season.
The New Zealander's rise in rugby is all the more remarkable given he was deaf up until several years ago when a cochlear implant restored his hearing.
Mitchell, 25, was born with a hearing impairment. He had some hearing thanks to hearing aids but his condition got worse. The five-foot-nine 251-pounder had the cochlear implant surgery three years ago after losing his hearing completely.
"My eardrum was pretty much gone ... I could not hear anything and I was just lip-reading," he said. "Life got a bit tough.
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Tyrees Dandridge, also known as Mr. D around the school, received a kidney and a heart transplant in October. Dandridge explained he has been on the donor list for a heart and a kidney for three years. He got an unexpected call from his doctor in October that both organs from the same donor were available, and rushed to the hospital shortly after. “I couldn’t breathe, I was just so happy. I couldn’t control it,” Dandridge recalled. “I just said, ‘Y’all, just hold on, let’s take a breath.’” The transplant was a success. He made steps to his recovery shortly after and was discharged just two weeks later.
"If I didn't have my parents, I wouldn't have been here. They pushed me to get the cochlear implant. Now I'm loving it."
On Friday, Mitchell and the Arrows (3-3-0) visit fellow expansion side Rugby United New York (4-1-0). It's the home opener for RUNY at MCU Park in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. The waterfront stadium is also home to the Brooklyn Cyclones, a New York Mets farm team in the New York–Penn League.
RUNY are led by fullback Ben Foden, a former England international.
Toronto is coming off a 27-20 comeback victory at the San Diego Legion while RUNY won 47-21 at the Utah Warriors last time out.
Growing up, Mitchell's rugby talent earned him an invitation to a New Zealand under-17 training camp. But his career appeared over when doctors told him he would have to give up the sport if he had the cochlear implant.
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His surgeon disagreed, saying he could place the device a little deeper. Mitchell wears a scrum cap to help protect the external portion of the device.
"I took his advice and look where I am now? Happy and just enjoying life," he said.
The implant is an electronic medical device that does the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain. It consists of an externally worn microphone and speech processor/internal electrode array. The microphone picks up sounds near the ear level and sends it to the speech processor.
It took several months to get used to the implant and have it working at peak levels.
"It's pretty amazing, to be honest .. Just hearing things I've never heard before. Unbelievable," he said enthusiastically.
A former flanker, Mitchell heard of the Arrows opportunity via his agent. After five years with the Southland Stags in New Zealand, his contract was expiring and he wanted a new challenge — and to hopefully learn new skills.
This worm can regrow its brain and entire head if needed
As humans, if we lose a limb or even a tiny digit like a finger or toe we're left to live out our lives without that particular appendage. We have no ability to regrow body parts, but many in the animal kingdom do indeed possess that power, and scientists just discovered several worm species that take their regeneration abilities to the next level. In a new research paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists reveal that at least four species of aquatic creatures called ribbon worms have the power to actually regrow their own heads.
"It's a very hard competition," he said of the Mitre 10 Cup, New Zealand's provincial competition. "There's so many players wanting a spot in the Mitre 10 that you have to be on top of your game and you have to perform week-in week-out."
He also wanted to see North America.
Mitchell is diplomatic about the level of rugby in MLR.
"There's a couple of things they need to work on but it's a start. It's got massive potential," he said.
While Mitchell admits the severity of the Canadian winter is something new, he is relishing life in his adopted home.
"I'm absolutely loving the big city life as I'm from a wee farm town back home in New Zealand. Everyone's been welcoming, it's made life easy."
Mitchell comes from Gore, located near the tip of New Zealand's South Island.
Toronto Arrows Roster
Rob Brouwer, Andrew Quattrin, Morgan Mitchell, Mike Sheppard, Paul Ciulini, Lucas Rumball (capt.), Peter Milazzo, Jack Nay, Andrew Ferguson, Sam Malcolm, Dan Moor, Guiseppe du Toit, Spencer Jones, Gaston Mieres, Shawn Windsor.
Steven Ng, Tom Dolezel, Cole Keith, Tom Van Horne, Kolby Francis, Riley Di Nardo, Jamie Leveridge, John Sheridan.
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Baloney Meter: Was budget a political prop?.
OTTAWA - "(Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) thinks today's budget will distract Canadians from all of this. He is using the budget — a critical element of any government's agenda — as nothing more than a political prop in an unprecedented cover-up." — Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer, March 19 --- Andrew Scheer and his Conservative caucus members have been scathing in their attacks on this week's decision by the Liberal-dominated House of Commons justice committee to abruptly end its examination of the SNC-Lavalin affair.
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