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The sport of curling fosters growth

Nancy Johnson

January 28, 2021

Gosh, it is so hard to pick one of the best curling stories that I have experienced. I am the mom of Team Sask’s Madison Johnson, Canadian Silver Medalist and Canada Games Participant.

One would think that winning the coveted ‘green’ jacket and the opportunity to represent Saskatchewan on a national stage would have the highlight of the best curling story. Don’t get me wrong, those were so exciting and exhilarating that it is almost indescribable. The true highlight is that I watched a young girl, often shy, really come into her own as an athlete and a well-rounded human.

In 2015, she took on the challenge of joining a team from Moose Jaw, SK with the primary goal of being Team Saskatchewan at the 2019 Canada Games. This commitment meant a 2.5-hour drive from our hometown of Saskatoon to Moose Jaw. This meant training and practicing during the week, often all by herself and getting up at the wee hours of the morning on Sundays to attend team practice, either on the ice or in the gym. When she found it challenging to keep motivated to workout on her own, she joined the Saskatoon Rowing Club to make sure her fitness level was where it needed to be and won a couple of gold medals at rowing competitions and was an alternate for Team Sask at the Summer Canada Games (she really is a water child – liquid or frozen).

In the four plus years of training, curling, traveling across multiple provinces Madison became well known in the curling world. She was known as a kind, friendly, and happy person off the ice. We were so proud when her peers voted her to be the recipient of the Joyce McKee Sportsmanship Award at the 2018 U21 Provincial Championships. On the ice, she was focused on one end at a time at making her shots as a third, line calling, and decision making. She learned how to manage training, a job, and schoolwork often with missing a lot of school. She was already well versed in online learning pre-pandemic because she took some grade 11 and 12 classes online so she could manage her schedule easier. The biggest bonus is the countless curling friends across the country that she has met and continues to be friends with. As I write this, on #BellLetsTalk day, those friends are helping each make it through a pandemic that has upended what their world use to include being in a curling rink competing and then laughing and socializing with those same competitors afterwards.

As her parent, I got to travel and meet the large curling community who have become so near and dear to our hearts. I was there to witness the celebrations of winning and the crushing defeat of loss but her bouncing back to do it all over again – win and lose.

I am a firm believer that sport has such an impact of the growth and development of a child. Life lessons that cannot be learned any other way than through the trials and tribulations of a bonspiel in the game of life. Without a doubt the green jackets were and will always be so special. Yet it was to be able to witness the enormous growth my daughter had while playing a sport she loved. I am beyond confident that whether she continues her curling career or not, that time in the all the curling rinks has made her into who she is today and forever. That is why, her entire curling journey from my seat, is my best curling memory and story.