I saw my little sister Selena running towards me from across the ice (says Alberta's Karsten Sturmay) and then she jumped up into my arms, giving me a big hug. This was the moment it hit me that I was going to the 2016 Canadian Junior Curling Championships, and so was she.
That day in Wainwright, Alta., when both of us won our provincial championships was a crazy day. Ever since I was small, it had been a dream of mine to compete at a National Championship alongside my little sister, and that dream had finally come true.
We touched down in Ontario on the evening of Wednesday, January 20, to a warm welcome from volunteers that had come out to pick us up. This show of hospitality would only foreshadow how obliging and helpful all of the volunteers were throughout the event. From the greeters to the drivers, and the team ambassadors to the restaurant staff, every single volunteer we interacted with was incredible, and I cannot thank them enough for all of their hard work.
To wear your provincial jacket proudly on your back as you go out to play the sport you love, competing against the best junior teams in the country, now that is something that never gets old.
This was my second time at Nationals, and I still got goosebumps each and every time we were piped onto the ice. To look up in the stands and see your family cheering wildly, dressed in your provincial colours, creates an atmosphere unlike anything you experience in any other curling event.
It was electric in those arenas; you could feel the energy from both the crowd and the competitors. We were treated to fantastic ice, world-class officiating, and the best competition we had ever faced. It was a perfect mix that resulted in some of the most entertaining, high-level curling I have been a part of.
I made some of the best shots of my life out there, met many awesome people, and had the time of my life doing it alongside four friends I am thankful to call my teammates.
One of my favourite parts of my Junior Nationals experience was the opportunity to be a fan as well as a competitor.
I watched as many of my little sister’s games as I could, and had many proud brother moments seeing Selena tear it up out there.
I remember running around the perimeter of the venue carrying an Alberta flag, cheering at the top of my lungs because her team had just scored a big end. It’s not every day you get to watch your little sister compete at a National championship, and I relished the opportunity to cheer her and her team on.
I cannot thank Curling Canada enough for putting on a world-class event. Additionally, I am so grateful to have been chosen as a "For The Love of Curling" Scholarship Recipient. The funding I received helped not only with school expenses, but also allowed me to join the University of Alberta’s varsity curling program – giving me access to many resources that have helped me improve as a player.
The generosity of the Curling Canada donors and curlers played a big role in helping me get to the Canadian Juniors.
This past season has been an incredible experience, and I cannot wait to start the journey to make it back to Nationals next season.
The For The Love Of Curling scholarship program will be offered again for the 2016-2017 season. The Application process will begin at the end of April. Visit curling.ca for more details in the coming weeks.
To support For The Love of Curling scholarships, please make a donation today!