High school action heats up
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.