Along with the rest of the world, curling has been put on pause this past year. My story takes place just two weeks before the whole world came to a halt, but it really started in 2006. I started curling at 6 years old. I was too young to join the program at my home club, but they let me in on account of my older sister joining that year as well. Since that day, I have been in love with curling. At the age of 12 I began playing competitively, dedicating evenings to practice and weekends to competition. Trying to follow in the footsteps of my sister and all her success, my goal had always been to play at a provincial competition.
I bounced around to different teams through U18 and U21 with some success, but never making it further than regionals. After years of mediocracy, I was losing hope of reaching the next level of excellence and I was feeling stuck. That is, until the day someone I barely knew asked me if I would play mixed doubles with them. He wanted to enter provincial play downs and his teammate backed out at the last second. My first thought was no way! I had tried doubles in the past and I didn’t enjoy it nor was I very good at it. I agreed to play with this person only if they couldn’t find anyone else.
A few weeks passed and they came to me asking again if I would play. I reluctantly agreed, feeling quite sure it would be a one-day commitment. To my surprise, we came in second place at the playdowns and advanced to provincials! The first provincial event under my belt was just the beginning of a powerful partnership that brings us to February 27, 2020. We had the opportunity to play mixed doubles at the Ontario Winter Games. After winning our zone, we were headed to Orillia to compete against the best teams from across the province. More than that though, we were part of something even bigger. There were 3,500 youth athletes across 27 sports gathering together for the love of our respective games and because of our hard work and dedication.
I was elated every time I stepped on the ice to play that week. I tried to soak up every moment; the crowd, the competition, the pride in my parent’s eyes. I will never forget the sense of excitement and community I felt while I was there. There is something electrifying about a group of people gathering to engage in what they are most passionate about. We finished third at the Winter Games, but it didn’t matter. The experience meant so much more than winning ever could. When I think about just a year before when my teammate-turned-best-friend asked me if I would play, it blows my mind that we’ve made it to two provincial level tournaments…and I thank the curling gods he couldn’t find anyone else.