Ontario skips counting on hometown support at Juniors

By Adam Prudhomme (The Napanee Beaver)…..A pair of rookie skips will represent Ont­ario at next month’s M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors in Napanee, each understanding the pros and cons of playing in their home province. On the women’s side, Manotick’s Jamie Sinclair will call the shots while Omemee’s Brett DeKoning throws last for the men’s. Though both have impressive curling resumes, neither has ever skipped at a national championship. “It was a shock,” Sinclair said of when she qualified earlier this month. “It’s what we worked for all year, but having it come true was pretty incredible. There was definitely a lot of emotion going on.” Sinclair had been trying to qualify since 2008. In 2007 she was lead on Rachel Homan’s team, which captured the gold medal at the Canada Winter Games. “At the Canada Games we also played on arena ice,” Sinclair said of her preparations for the Juniors. “The crowds in the stands were a big distraction and all the cow bells and everything. Having that experience will definitely help me going into Napanee.” For DeKoning it’s a similar story. Though he had never qualified for nationals, he captured an Ontario Curling Association bantam championship and played in the Ontario Winter Games in ‘08. This is his first year skipping on his current team, which he formed in September. “It was a great feeling,” he said. “We all knew each other and we didn’t have many expectations. We were just going to have fun this year. We knew we had the potential to win it, we just kept hopping along and we were lucky to be where we were at the end.” For Omemee, which is near Peterborough, DeKoning’s victory marked the first time the region will be represented at nationals. “(Curling) is pretty prominent there,” he said. “There’s a lot of small curling clubs in that area… it was really special to win a banner for Omemee.” Though neither team has ties to the Napanee area, since they’ll be representing Ontario, they’re hoping for a large following. “There’s going to be a lot of people there that want us to win, being the home team,” said Sinclair. “I wouldn’t say there’s anymore pressure than being from any other province. It’s just really going to be great to have the support from all the fans that are going to be out there.” DeKoning agrees, adding that he expects a large contingent of Omemee supporters. “I think we’ll enjoy the support more than we’ll feel the pressure,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of fans there.” As for Sinclair, given that Manotick is near Ottawa, she too expects a fair amount of support from her home town. Both skips will try to lead their province to victory when the Juniors get underway Feb. 4-12. The games will be played at both the Strathcona Paper Centre and Napanee and District Curling Club.