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Romance On The Rocks

Sarah Wilkes, Second for Team Rachel Homan

January 25, 2021

For me, curling has been the connective thread that ties my path to so many people across the country, and the world. I’ve also been fortunate that many of those ties have become my best friends. What’s more, curling has also tied me to the love of my life.

In 2015, my now-husband; then new-boyfriend (Micky Lizmore) and I were hanging out with another pair of dating curlers, Brad Thiessen and Alison Kotylak. (Alison was 13 and Brad was 16 when they first met. Brad has been quoted saying that he knew he and Alison would get married from the moment they met at the Alberta Rocks curling camp in Leduc.)

Brad and Ali extended an invite to Micky and me to play with them in an upcoming mixed-playdown. None of us were really thinking much about winning, we just thought it will be a fun excuse to spend a weekend together.

As it happened, throughout all of our playdown games that weekend we kept finding ourselves in the position of needing to play every draw possible; it was exhausting. The fun we had expected was being tainted, and we all were starting to question why we’d signed up in the first place.

Thankfully, we pulled it together, and as a team, we went on to win our way into a qualification spot for the upcoming Provincial Championships. With a bit more effort and a lot more planning, we successfully won Provincials as well. With that win, we also punched our tickets to the 2016 Mixed National Championships.

There were more than 6 months before our first game at Mixed Nationals in Toronto. Shortly after our Mixed Provincial win, Brad and Ali got engaged. So, with love in the air and an opportunity to have even more family support around us (my home province is Ontario) – we were all really excited for Mixed Nationals.

That excitement was exponential as our team went undefeated at that event. After the final victory that weekend we all suddenly realized, “Woah, I guess we are going to Worlds now?!” For a group of four who had no plans to win the local competition just one year prior, our trajectory was extra steep!

There was a full year between Nationals and Worlds, so Brad and Alison were able to have their wedding before we set off to Russia to represent Canada all together for the 2016 World Mixed Curling Championship. That was really special, too.

When we finally got to Russia for Worlds, it was a whole new level of play. Thankfully, we expected it, and as a team, we did great. When I think about how I was playing with my best friends, and competing alongside my significant other, one memory, in particular, comes to mind.

At Nationals, during one of our games between finals, we were up three points and I was on my last shot. Frustratingly, I missed the shot way too thin and I set up the other team to potentially lie 3. I was beside myself and couldn’t believe it happened. M

icky was really quiet at first; he was up next to shoot and in that time, he made the shot he needed to make. Without another word, I vividly remember him coming straight over to me, putting his arm around my shoulders and saying, “It’s going to be okay.”

To have that kind of support, to be side by side with your closest friends on the other side of the globe playing the best of the best – it was really special.

Later that same year, Micky and I got engaged.

So, as you can imagine, with memories like those and countless more ahead – curling has always felt like so much more than just “sport”.