A far-reaching concept

Robin Short
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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.”


Organizations: Canada Games, Caribou Curling Club, Bally Haly Curling Club Lab City.In Mayflower Curling Club Piccadilly Central High School

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Stephenville, Corner Brook Mount Pearl Yukon Gander Whitehorse Port aux Basques Campbellton-Bathurst Charlotte Halifax.But

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Recent comments

  • Zach Young
    February 16, 2011 - 16:46

    My name is Zach Young, not Zack. Thanks!

  • Edmund
    February 16, 2011 - 14:51

    Why not do what the Winter Games Hockey team did for the 1971 Games in Saskatoon. They held the training camp in the summer of 1969 in Buchans with Joe Byrne, Howie Meeker and Bobby Baun, picked the 25 players of interest, knowing there would possibly changes in the year leading up to the games in Feb of 1971, travelled all around the province the winter of 1969, 1970 and part of 1971 playing all the NAHA Senior teams, St. John's, Gander, Grand Falls, Corner Brook and Clarenville plus Memorial University Beothucks and The Carol Lakers and Goose Bay All Stars in Labrador every weekend. During each weekend trip they practiced as a team at least once each of those weekends while they were together. It gave the team a chance to pratice and play together as much as possible, become close friends, gave the people of the province a chance to see the team that would represent them, provided great competition for the team (they even won their fair shareof their games) and it worked. The team finished tied with Alberta for second place in their division but they (Games Hockey Commitee) made up a rule before the last game, that they had to win their final game against the Youkon by 14 goals to get in ahead of Alberta and into the medal round (they tied Alberta 4 - 4 in their hard fought game against them). They only won against Youkon by 12 goals even while playing the last period without a goalie. Alberta got in the medal round and finished 2nd to Ontario. Newfoundland finished fifth, still the best showing a NL hockey team has had at The Canada Games. If you can do that with a hockey team you can surely make it happen with 4 or 5 curlers. It takes a lot of desire, committment and time on the road to do this but it is worth it. Maybe the 1971 team (coaches and players) were ahead of their time but the bottom line is that was what had to be done to be successful and all involved bought into the program. Oh, they paid most of the travel expenses from their share of the ticket sales for each game and when they started to win against the senior teams the fans sure came out to see the team. Curling is supposed to be an up and coming sport with all kinds of leagues (recreational and competative) around the province. Its about time someone takes ownership of getting things done rather than have excuses why it is so difficult to get the team together. Hurry Hard curlers, your future stars and future of your game in this province needs you!!!