Between the Sheets: To Curl or Not To Curl

It was common knowledge that prior to the Olympic Trials in December our team had agreed that if we didn’t win the 2009 Trials we were going our separate ways at the end of the season. That decision wasn’t about any team dynamic issues but rather more about our personal lives and how much we had all put into curling in the four years leading up to the Trials. There were marriages coming up, discussions on babies, spouses that were getting tired of being single and jobs that needed our attention. What we didn’t discuss however, was what we were going to do if we won!

Cheryl Bernard and Carolyn Darbyshire at the 2009 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Edmonton, Alberta.

Our decision to continue to play was based on a variety of things. The first was the realization of what we would now be invited to next season – that got us pretty pumped! We get to play in the Canada Cup of Curling, Nov 30 to December 5th, in Medicine Hat, Alberta – which is an event we love. We also get to compete in The Continental Cup as part of Team North America, in St Albert Jan 13-17, 2011 – what fun! Next we have guaranteed a spot into our Alberta Scotties Provincials Jan 26-30, 2011 in Camrose and with a win there – we would get an all expense paid trip across Canada to my adopted home province, Prince Edward Island, Feb 19-27, 2011 where Charlotteown is hosting the 2011 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Now one of the more exciting invitations for 2011 is “The TSN Casinorama Skins Game” (January 22 & 23rd in Toronto)! When we received the invitation we were told our first game would be against Kevin Martin. I was thinking someone a little tougher, possibly Jones or Scott? But Martin will have to do. So what was my response? We would agree to come as long as Martin’s team uses straw brooms when we play them. TSN came back with, “We love your sense of humour. Glad you have agreed to come.”, but I wasn’t kidding about the corn brooms. The venue, format and interaction with the fans will defiantly make for a fun weekend of curling. But watch out guys! We ARE playing to win! I am not sure our team has actually discussed this reason specifically, but another reason to play was to explore our success as a team. I do believe you learn how to win! We learned a lot this year and we want to continue that ride. It was a dream year for our team and with that experience in our back pocket we are curious to see how much more we can do, and to enjoy the benefits that come with all the hard work. I have always believed that when teams win something big, most of them come back and win again and again. This year was a good example. We had never won anything as big as the Trials and then we went on to win an Olympic Silver medal. Then we finished the year off by winning the Players’ Championship. I now believe we have learned how to win and what it feels like to win. We believe in ourselves. Sometimes you just need to have a win (or two) and you have now learned how. Sandra Schmirler, Colleen Jones, Jennifer Jones, Kevin Martin are all examples of teams that won big once and then just continue(d) to win and dominate. We discussed this as a team. We talked about how those teams that had started to win, would act and feel. If we could just simulate that  (“build it and they will come”). It did somewhat. We won a couple provincial finals, but we never won the “big one”. But maybe it was all for this year, to win the Trials to win the silver medal to win the Players’ Championship. That is part of what is going to be great about next year. We don’t have to simulate anymore. We get to be that team.! The toughest thing for us now is to get up for next season. As much as that is a concern after this year, there just isn’t one of us that isn’t innately competitive, so I don’t think complacency will be an issue. Perhaps our win at the Players’ Championship this year demonstrated that. But we did discuss that we need to reset our goals and find something to get us as excited as our quest to go to the Olympics. So we discussed what had we not done and that was to win a Canadian or a World Championship. That’s our goal! We could feel the butterflies, We knew that just because we had been to the biggest show in curling, it hadn’t taken away our excitement to compete, to win more, to want more.