Women’s curling team comes from all corners of Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador third Chloe Deaves (left) and skip Carolyn Suley (right) watch from behind as Linea Eby, the third for Yukon, reacts to one of her team’s shots during the female curling competition at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax on Tuesday. The Yukon won 5-2, dropping Newfoundland and Labrador’s record to 1-2. — Photo by The Canadian Press
Halifax — Given this is at least the fourth straight Canada Games that Newfoundland and Labrador curling has opted for an ‘all-star’ team concept comprised of players from across the province, it appears the idea is here to stay.
But it doesn’t make it easy for the curlers, or the coaches.
“It’s been a challenge,” said Diane Ryan, coach of Carolyn Suley’s team here at the 2011 Halifax Winter Games.
“Actually, it’s extremely frustrating. I’m used to coaching a team and being with them three or four times a week.”
That hasn’t been the case with the Suley team. Ryan, Suley and lead Heather Croke are from St. John’s. The team’s second, Charlotte Woolfrey, is from Corner Brook, while third Chloe Deaves hails from Cape St. George on the province’s west coast.
So while Suley and Croke are throwing rocks in St. John’s, both Woolfrey and Deaves have to drive an hour to hook up at Stephenville’s Caribou Curling Club for practice.
The men’s curling team, which competes in Week 2, has two players from St. John’s — Stephen Trickett and Grant Maddigan, while Zack Young is from Mount Pearl. However, Adam Boland lives in Gander.
The teams were selected following tryouts at the Bally Haly Curling Club in St. John’s.
It was the same thing at the 2007 Games in Whitehorse, Yukon when the women’s team had two curlers from St. John’s, one from Labrador City and another from Port aux Basques. On the men’s team, two were from the capital city and one each from Gander and Appleton. In 2003, in Campbellton-Bathurst, N.B., both the boys’ and girls’ teams had three curlers from St. John’s and Mount Pearl and one each from Lab City.
In 2007, the female team placed seventh, while the males were ninth. Both curling teams finished seventh in ’03.
“We do the best we can,” Ryan said. “We’ve been meeting half-way in Gander a couple of times and getting away for some tournaments.
“We do what we can with what we have and considering those circumstances, and the teams we are playing against have been together all the time, we’re doing well.”
Suley’s squad dropped to 1-2 following a 5-2 loss to the Yukon Tuesday at the Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax.
But in one sense, said Ryan, maybe the difference in geography has its advantages, too,
“When we do get together, we’re staying together in hotels,” she said, “and when the girls are in St. John’s, they’re all staying at my place. In that regard, we have had a chance to bond.
“And,” she said with a grin, referring to today’s Internet technology, “we meet one night a week through Skype.”
If it’s been challenging for coach Ryan, imagine the problems faced by Woolfrey and Deaves, who both have to make a two-hour round trip just to throw a few rocks in Stephenville.
“I’ve been doing it a couple of years, going back and forth,” said Deaves, a 17-year-old student at Piccadilly Central High School.
“It’s difficult, but it’s all worth it. The love of the game, I guess.
“It’s a new thing for Charlotte.”
Neither Deaves nor Woolfrey are playing in a league this season, instead committing to the Canada Games program. To supplement their training, however, both tried to put a team together — with their mothers playing front end, no less — but couldn’t coordinate their schedules.
“And not only that,” Deaves said, “it’s difficult getting into Stephenville six and seven o’clock at night, especially during winter when the roads are getting bad.”
Still, though, Deaves likes the idea of the all-star concept, probably for the very same reason it was instituted in the first place.
“If we had a playdowns to select a Canada Games representative,” she said, “the only teams that would be going to the Games would be from St. John’s.
“I don’t have a team in Stephenville and Charlotte certainly doesn’t have one in Corner Brook (that city doesn’t have a curling club). There are not the many teams 17 and under across the province. None of us from outside St. John’s would have a chance at curling in the Canada Games.”