I have spent thousands of hours on the field as a football player and created so many memories that have shaped who I am. It’s no secret that I am an avid curling fan, and in a similar way, the sport of curling has given me so much. There are a lot of great memories that come to mind when I think about the times I’ve had in a curling rink, but there’s one event in particular that really set the bar.
There was no hesitation in my voice when I picked up a call from Regan Birr, creator and lead organizer of Lupus Spiel USA. Chelsea Carey, Canadian and Alberta women’s champion skip (2016,2019) and Manitoba provincial women’s champion skip (2014), was the one who recommended me to Regan, and I’m grateful that she did. Saying, ‘yes’ to curl at the Lupus Spiel USA that’s held in Blaine, Minneapolis, was one of the best things that I’ve ever done – not just for the charity we supported, but for how it would shape my connection with the entire curling community.
Once the arrangements were made, I flew out to Minneapolis a day early. The series of events over the course of just a few days were incredible.
While on the flight I met Team Manitoba’s, Colin Hodgson. He and I got to chatting and discovered we both had plans to catch the Minnesota Twins game that day. We went to the game together, and he ended up being my roommate through the weekend of the event, too.
Lupus Spiel USA is actually one of the biggest Pro-Am bonspiels in the world, but I had no idea going into it.
On the first morning of the competition I was standing in the lobby, and who do I see? 4-time Canadian champion and a member of the World Curling Hall of Fame, Kevin Martin! Kevin actually walked right up to me, shook my hand, and said that he knew who I was. I was shocked!
Right after that, wandering towards the restaurant, I spotted none other than one of the most decorated curlers of all time, Glenn Howard. I suddenly started thinking, “What is going on? This is the biggest pro-am event and I’ve only ever seen these people on
television. Now, I’m surrounded by them.”
The fact is, from the instant I arrived, I began to discover just how authentic and
genuine every single curling athlete truly is.
On the second day of play, there was one moment that really stood out. I was up against Cathy Overton-Clapham – yes, the Cathy-O; complete with her impressive resume of one world championship, five national championships, and twelve Scotties Tournament of Hearts appearances, and who, by the way, is a total blast. Now, for this game, I was my team’s skip. Somewhere around the third or fourth end, I looked up and practically had an out-of-body experience.
There I was, lining up to take a shot against Cathy O, and on the sheet to our left is former World Champion skip, and three-time Brier champion, Pat Ryan; directly on the sheet to our right is Team Scotland’s 2013 World Champion and 2014 Olympic Bronze medallist (representing Great Britain), Eve Muirhead. What’s more – Glenn Howard, Carly Howard and Scott Howard are directly behind our sheet watching me shoot – talk about pressure!
In all honesty, while I always have high expectations of myself, I didn’t feel the kind of pressure that I’ve experienced in some huge moments as a Kicker, but the thought of whether or not Glenn was scouting me for future years, may have crossed my mind. Haha!
More than anything, I was just really, really excited to be among them. All weekend long, I met so many incredible athletes, legends and fans of curling who all became my friends. Some of those friends have become my friends for life and many of them, text and call to wish me luck before my CFL games.
I will forever be grateful for that call from Chelsea Carey, and for choosing to respond, ‘yes’! Friendships, support, laughter, and belonging; the power of community is demonstrated in every sport. But curling sweeps everything together in a totally unique