Young team will make the most of Scotties experience

Kenn Oliver
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CURLING Tournament of Hearts national women's championship begins to day in the Soo

The Shelley Nichols curling team is serious about their first run at the Canadian women's championship together.

But don't expect the foursome to show up with their best poker faces.

"We play very well with a smile," says Nichols, who skipped her team of third Stephanie Ledrew, Rhonda Rogers and Collete Lemon to the provincial title last month at the Re/Max Centre (St. John's Curling Club) by defeating five-time defending champ Heather Strong 9-8 in an extra end of the second championship game.

The Shelley Nichols curling team is serious about their first run at the Canadian women's championship together.  Photos by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

The Shelley Nichols curling team is serious about their first run at the Canadian women's championship together.

But don't expect the foursome to show up with their best poker faces.

"We play very well with a smile," says Nichols, who skipped her team of third Stephanie Ledrew, Rhonda Rogers and Collete Lemon to the provincial title last month at the Re/Max Centre (St. John's Curling Club) by defeating five-time defending champ Heather Strong 9-8 in an extra end of the second championship game.

"We play better when we're having a good time."

Heading into the provincials, Nichols was reading Andre Agassi's autobiography 'Open,' in which Agassi wrote about his difficulty beating rival Pete Sampras.

"His coach told him, 'When you beat Sampras, the skies are going to part.' When we finally beat Heather, I actually quoted the book.

"She is beatable like everybody else. It's a big hurdle to overcome and we did it."

This will be Nichols' third appearance at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. She threw third stone for Strong in the 2006 and '07 championships, but this year's even,t which opens today in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. will be her first as a skip.

The experience, she expects, will be, "a little nerve-racking.

"But it's an excited nervous, rather than a scared nervous.

"I've gone as a follower, and now I'm stepping up as a leader."

The team will travel with spare Michelle Jewer and has also enlisted the services of P.E.I. skip Suzanne Gaudet's former coach, Jeff Wilson. Nichols and Ledrew know Wilson from the 2003 junior nationals.

"(He) has a lot of the same personality traits that we have," Nichols says of Wilson, an Ontario native who went to the finals in the 2005 national junior championships.

"He's fun, likes to have a laugh and has a great knowledge of the game."

One of the highlights for Nichols will be marching out onto the ice at the ESSAR Centre with her teammates and coach, none of whom have attended a Scotties before.

And with no guarantee of a return to the Scotties in 2011, Nichols plans to make the most of, "being part of something really cool.

"There's a whole bunch of stuff I want us to do because we're a bunch of young girls and you never know where life's going to take you. You really don't know if this is going to be your last year, so you have got to make it good."

That said, Nichols and company won't practise a regimented routine free of outside distractions and extracurricular activities. Instead, they plan on diving in head-first, taking part in autograph sessions, interviews in the Heartstop Lounge, and answering phones in the Sandra Schmirler Telethon prior to playing back-to-back games on Sunday.

"Even if we're run ragged by the end of the week, it won't matter because we did everything we could do and saw everything we could see."

The Nichols rink opens the 2010 Scotties today against the Northwest Territories/Yukon

koliver@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Max Centre, Curling Club, ESSAR Centre

Geographic location: St. John's, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Northwest Territories Yukon

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Recent comments

  • Tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Girls just go out and continue to have fun. Enjoy the ups with the downs and learn from it all. I know you will be great ambassadors for the province and I will not miss a game.

  • Tim
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    Girls just go out and continue to have fun. Enjoy the ups with the downs and learn from it all. I know you will be great ambassadors for the province and I will not miss a game.