High school ac­tion heats up

The Sudbury Star - - SPORTS - RANDY PAS­CAL

With only a few weeks to go be­fore the Christ­mas break, the new wave of high-school curl­ing tal­ent that is tak­ing to the ice for the 2018-19 cam­paign is only just begin­ning to hit their stride.

While there are cer­tainly a small hand­ful of the ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive curlers in­ter­spersed among the 15 teams split al­most evenly be­tween the boys and girls leagues, the vast ma­jor­ity of those on hand this past Wed­nes­day at the Idyl­wylde Golf & Coun­try Club are likely just six to eight weeks into the new sea­son.

That’s cer­tainly the case for vet­eran skip Emily Brock of the Sacre Coeur Grif­fons, whose in­ter­est in her rapidly grow­ing pas­sion dates back to her fi­nal year of el­e­men­tary school­ing at Ecole St. Pierre in Min­now Lake.

“There was an el­e­men­tary tour­na­ment and some­one had dropped out at the last minute and they needed some­one, and they thought of me be­cause I was on ev­ery sport team,” noted the well-spo­ken 17-year-old Grade 12 stu­dent. “I loved it, I to­tally fell in love with it as soon as I threw my first rock.

“Curl­ing is my win­ter sport, I guess you could say, be­cause I’m al­ways so con­sumed with soc­cer in the sum­mer. Curl­ing is still rel­a­tively new for me, since I’ve been do­ing soc­cer for al­most my en­tire life.”

That said, the ap­peal is quickly iden­ti­fi­able for Brock, even with a tongue-in-cheek na­ture to part of her re­sponse.

“I like the mix­ture of it be­ing a team sport, but there’s also an el­e­ment where you have to fo­cus more on your­self and your own shots,” she noted.

“But even if you do miss a shot, it’s never just your fault. It’s the sweep­ers, it’s the ice, well, I will blame it on the ice some­times,” she added slyly.

Tak­ing to the ice this week with a crew that in­cluded Katiya GareauJones, Brooke Lacey, Au­drey Boivin and Olivia Black, Brock was ef­fu­sive in out­lin­ing the progress that her team has made since com­ing to­gether prior to the start of the 2017-18 sea­son.

“A lot of them started off as brand new curlers, and now, they ’re much more ex­pe­ri­enced,” she said. “You would never be able to tell it’s only their sec­ond year of curl­ing. Their slide, their weight, their line of de­liv­ery is all so much bet­ter. I’m so proud to see how far they have come. They are such quick learn­ers.”

Now smit­ten with the sport, Brock has ex­panded her reper­toire to in­clude a ca­sual Sun­day night league with her mom and other fam­ily mem­bers, as well as dab­bling with the rel­a­tively new mixed dou­bles game, with partner James McVit­tie, even if it means tack­ling some aw­fully daunt­ing com­pe­ti­tion, at times.

“We’re try­ing out mixed dou­bles – it’s so much fun,” said Brock. “I even got to play against Tracy Fleury. She is so nice. We only lost by three points, but I think she went easy on us, to be fair.”

Just a cou­ple of sheets of ice to her left, Col­lege Notre Dame Alou­ettes’ junior Alex Rheaume can com­pletely re­late to the cap­ti­va­tion that Brock is feel­ing for curl­ing.

Now in his sixth year in the rings, Rheaume has evolved from a back­ground with de­vel­op­men­tal curl­ing in Con­is­ton, to look­ing for a lit­tle bit more these days.

“This year is my first time on a com­pet­i­tive team, with Sam Bran­con­nier and his team,” ex­plained the 15-yearold Grade 10 stu­dent at CND.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, the Alou­ettes’ en­try into the SDSSAA ranks ac­tu­ally car­ries over three mem­bers of that com­pet­i­tive team, with Rheaume and Bran­con­nier join­ing Pa­trick Labrosse on a crew that hopes to con­tend for a city ti­tle this year.

While Rheaume is man­ning, al­most ex­clu­sively, front-end du­ties with both teams, he very much en­joys talk­ing the game through with his vice and skip, a change that he no­ticed as he made the jump to the com­pet­i­tive ranks. “The way that other peo­ple played was dif­fer­ent than the way I played with my de­vel­op­ment team,” he re­called.

“In Con­is­ton, it was more just throw your rock and wher­ever it landed, it landed. But I’m more of a strate­gic per­son, my mind works in a strate­gic way. So I would al­ways have that weird, dif­fi­cult shot to do, and I would usu­ally make it. Me and Sam have a sim­i­lar mind­set. I know what he’s go­ing to tell me to do be­fore he even tells me to do it.”

Like the Sacre Coeur girls’ team, Rheaume can re­late to the re­quired learn­ing curve of curl­ing, some­thing he is quick to share with a trio of rel­a­tive new­bies who ro­tate through the Notre Dame lead po­si­tion. “I told them that when I started curl­ing, I never made my shots. I would ei­ther hog in, or throw it too hard.”

In the win­ners’ cir­cle

With 50 per cent of their lineup now com­prised of Sud­bury-based tal­ent, the Krista McCarville rink cap­tured the Curl Mesabi Clas­sic last week­end in Eveleth, Minn., beat­ing Lau­rie St. Ge­orges of Laval 7-1 in the fi­nal.

While Ken­dra Lilly has served as vice for Team McCarville for a few years now, the ad­di­tion of Jen­nifer Gates, step­ping in to cover the ma­ter­nity leave of sec­ond Ash­ley Sip­pala, dates back only a few months.

Mean­while, at the Nis­san Curl­ing Clas­sic in Paris, Ont., the Tan­ner Hor­gan men’s rink of Mark Kean, Ja­cob Hor­gan and Maxime Blais gar­nered an­other nice pay­day, mak­ing it through to the cham­pi­onship fi­nal be­fore drop­ping a 6-3 de­ci­sion to Glenn Howard.

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