2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings – Canadian Olympic Curling Trials
Presented by Monsanto

It can’t be done without family support

In one of my earlier blogs here on curling.ca, I talked about the effort and dedication curlers need to be elite. We need to practise, work on our fitness, travel to competitions and make sacrifices to do whatever it takes to be the last team standing in December.

Nolan Thiessen with his family at the 2010 World Men's Curling Championship in Italy. (Photo, courtesy Nolan Thiessen)

Nolan Thiessen, back, with his family — from left, wife Christine, step-daughter Tyra and step-daughter Taylor — at the 2010 World Men’s Curling Championship in Italy. (Photo, courtesy Nolan Thiessen)

What hardly gets talked about by the media that follow curling are the sacrifices our families and support networks make to help us achieve our goals.

Every single player in the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials has someone who makes a sacrifice for them so that they can follow their dream. Many curlers have jobs in which their bosses give them time off for various training efforts, or they run their own businesses and have employees who step up and do extra work to cover for them while they are off chasing the Olympic dream.

Nolan Thiessen's step-daughter Tyra waves the Canadian flag while sitting on the shoulders Jayden, the son of Team Koe second Carter Rycroft, at the 2010 World Championship. (Photo, courtesy Nolan Thiessen)

Nolan Thiessen’s step-daughter Tyra waves the Canadian flag while sitting on the shoulders Jayden, the son of Team Koe second Carter Rycroft, at the 2010 World Championship. (Photo, courtesy Nolan Thiessen)

For Team Koe, our wives and families are the ones who make the most significant sacrifice to help us chase this dream. All four of us have wives and young families, and when we hit the road for team training weekends or competitions, their lives do not stop as they wait for us to get back.

The kids still have school to get to and from every day, sports or extracurricular activities that they need to attend and our wives have jobs and activities they enjoy as well. It is a chore at the best of times when both parents are around to help out, but when our wives are left alone to do it all, it puts stress on the family to facilitate everything. We all incorporate some form of before-and-after school care or simply get help from Grandma and Grandpa so that everything gets done.

During our first event of the season at the start of September, we flew out on Wednesday evening to get to Oakville, Ont. This is what my wife’s weekend looked like after I left: our 15-year-old had a ringette game Thursday (my wife is the co-coach of the team) and practices Saturday and Sunday. Our 10-year-old had two four-hour gymnastics slots and her first tryout skate of the ringette season. My wife was also competing in a Spartan race (14-K run, including 21 obstacles throughout the course) with Marc Kennedy’s wife on Saturday morning. Oh yeah, and we have a nine-month-old son who needs a little attention from time to time!

Needless to say, it was not the best weekend to be away curling, but my wife, my in-laws and the kids made sure that they ran around and got everyone to everything and the weekend was a success. When I called home and texted with my wife and kids, I didn’t hear anything negative about being away; all they talked about was what was going on at home, how their sporting adventures went, and they asked how we were doing in Oakville.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not always a roaring success when we are away. When my wife is running around and my weekend is filled with curling, naps, meals at nice restaurants and more curling, she is definitely getting the raw end of that deal. It’s stressful on my wife and I know that, but she supports my dream and is excited for this opportunity that our entire family has.

That is the best part of the Olympic dream for my family — and probably everyone’s family — in the Roar of the Rings: it is not just my dream as a player; it is my entire family’s dream. Everyone is excited for this season and what could happen if Team Koe plays well in December. I am constantly reminded by my girls that they would love to take a month off of school in February for a trip to Russia and get to meet athletes such as Sidney Crosby and everyone on the Canadian Olympic team (us curlers are old news to them) and experience what it is like to be at the Olympic Games.

The entire family came to Italy in 2010 for the World Championship, and those are amazing memories, memories that we still reminisce about to this day. Having the chance to provide more of those types of memories to my family this February is pretty exciting and without their support it would be impossible. The good news is I know they are behind me 100 per cent.