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Flatlanders join forces

Sherry Anderson is a career skip. Make that… was a career skip.

Sherry Anderson and Stefanie Lawton (Photo: CCA/Michael Burns Photography)

The 46-year-old Anderson, who lives in Delisle, has directed four Saskatchewan women’s curling championship teams. The first was 17 curling seasons ago.

Including a pair of appearances as an alternate, she has checked into six renewals of the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts.

“I don’t look at this as stepping down,” says the Prince Albert product when asked about her decision this season to scrap a longstanding station on the teehead and join 30-year-old Stefanie Lawton, her sister Marliese Kasner and second player Sherri Singler on what appears on paper to be a considerably stronger Saskatoon curling unit.

“And I don’t mind sweeping,” she adds before some wag can bring up the subject of the brush.

“Mind you, after the third game of the third day of 10-end games in an event like the Canada Cup, I may have a different opinion on that.”

There were suspicions Anderson was thinking of hanging it up following last season. Turns out it was her long-time lead Donna Gignac who packed it in and her second, Heather Walsh, who decided to take a hiatus from the game.

“The word retirement has never come out of my mouth,” Anderson says.

“I had convinced Kim (long-time third Hodson) to play, and then Stef called with this proposal . . . asked me to play for her, and I thought about it and decided, why not? Now Kim is taking a year off, too. She was sort of undecided, then I convinced her to keep playing, that we could go with a couple of younger players, but I think she was just as happy to take a break.

“A lot of people seem to be doing it this year but I’ve never thought about that. I always want to curl. I wouldn’t know what to do if there wasn’t curling.”

Still, the call from Lawton must have been something of a surprise.

“My very first reaction? What? No, I couldn’t. I couldn’t play third for her. Because I’m a skip. And I knew she wanted to skip. There was no sense her not skipping.

“Then I hung up the phone and told my husband what the conversation was all about. He said, ‘Well, why not?” And I started thinking about it and I thought, ‘Yeah, well really, why not? There’s no reason why I can’t play another position.’ And I thought, ‘We really don’t have a team any more, we need to look for players.’ And I thought, ‘A change sometimes is good.’

“As much as I enjoyed playing with Kim, and it would have been fun to play with her again, this is good, too. I enjoy these girls, I enjoy having a good time. Why not? Why be sad? And I enjoy playing at a competitive level. It gets the juices flowing.”

There has been a learning process this fall, playing a new position on a team that always was an enemy in northern Saskatchewan.

“It’s different, for sure,” Anderson admits. “You’re interacting with the players more than you ever do when you’re skipping. A skip is kind of lonely at times. So I’m enjoying that part of it. It is an adjustment, though.

“I didn’t feel I was playing great at the start But it’s coming now. We’ve qualified in every ‘spiel and won one of them. We’re getting to know each other better all the time.”

Lawton says the need for the revamp surfaced when lead Lana Vey, who lives in Regina, made the decision to stay in the south.

“Lana had to do so much travelling,” Lawton says. “It was her decision. She decided she wanted to play with a southern team — she’s third for Michelle Englot. So then we were looking for a player and we looked around and I thought, ‘Hey, let’s see what Sherry is up to,’ and it turned out great.”

Sister Kasner always had been Lawton’s vice-skip but . . . “Marliese didn’t mind moving down to lead, she hasn’t played the position for a long time — when we used to play with Mom and Dad, I played second and she played lead — but it’s a good challenge for her. And she’s really into the sweeping. She’s playing well”.

The former national junior champ (2000) is brimming with optimism where her new lineup is concerned.

“It’s coming together,” she says. “It’s a matter of practising and learning how we all work together. I think we have the makings of a great team.”

Anderson attended the 2005 Scotties as the Lawton team’s alternate after losing the provincial final. But the original pre-Anderson plan this year was a scaled down schedule.

“Marliese and Sherry and I talked about it and we thought maybe we should take a bit of a break from the hectic run of the last few years,” admits Lawton, a chartered accountant who switched employers — departing Myer, Norris, Penney for the marketing department of Cameco Corporation — last spring.

“Then we started planning it out and when we were finished it came out the same hectic schedule.

“You know what? You have so much fun at all these events you don’t want to miss any of them. So we’re playing the same complete schedule we always play.”

And the new bosses are agreeable to all that time off to chuck rocks?

“They’re great,” says Lawton.

And, echoing Anderson, her new skip, she adds:

“A change sometimes is good.”