Come December, Rachel Homan could very well be leading the youngest team in the field into Winnipeg’s MTS Centre for the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto, when the top shooters in Canadian curling compete for a trip to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympics.
But in this case, there is definitely no correlation between age and competitive maturity with a team that, for the most part, has grown up together pursuing the shared dream of being the best they can be at the game they love.
The 24-year-old skip from the Ottawa Curling Club is the defending Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion with a victory over Jennifer Jones of Manitoba in last season’s championship final in Kingston. Homan also represented Ontario at the Scotties in 2011 and came one win away from a repeat performance the following year.
“My teammates have been together for 12 or 13 years and this is my fourth year,” said Lisa Weagle, lead for the Homan squad that includes Emma Miskew and Alison Kreviazuk. “I think it says a lot about our team. We share the same goals and we’re friends off the ice as well. We spend so much time together, I think that’s really important.”
Homan developed the winning attitude in her early years on the ice, prevailing four consecutive years (2003-2006) at the Ontario Bantam Girl’s Curling Championship for competitors under the age of 16. Miskew was on board for all four titles and Kreviazuk for the first three.
At the junior level, after two straight losses in Ontario’s provincial playdowns, Homan qualified for the Canadian Junior Women’s Curling Championship in 2009, losing to Manitoba’s Kaitlyn Lawes in the final.
The following year she returned to win the national title with an unblemished 13-0 record. At the world championship in Flims, Switzerland, the young Canadians lost to Sweden in the gold-medal game.
The 2013 Roar of the Rings will mark the team’s first appearance at the Canadian Curling Trials with the honour of representing Canada at the Sochi Olympics on the line. Homan skipped in the 2009 Road to the Roar in Prince George, but failed to advance to the Roar of the Rings.
Weagle, a communications advisor with Sports Canada, had the opportunity for an inside introduction to the Olympic experience as part of an assignment to London, England for the 2012 Paralympic Games.
“It was really eye-opening for me with all the security screening and accreditation procedures,” said Weagle. “I got to see a lot of the venues and a lot of the events… as well as athlete sleeping quarters and dining halls.
“It was absolutely an inspiration for me seeing the athletes perform and stand on the podium with all the Canadian flags in the crowds. It gives you an insight into what it would be like to be there as an athlete and I think will help me prepare for that experience when it comes.”
Weagle said the team is optimistic with the Roar of the Rings on the horizon. “We’ve stepped back from work responsibilities a bit to focus on the season. We’re on the ice every day practicing as a team… we’ve competed in three ‘spiels and we have three more to go before the Trials.
“We were careful in planning our events. You want to get in enough games, especially against the teams you’ll be competing against in the Trials, but at the same time you don’t want to go too hard and burn yourself out.”
The team is heading in to the biggest event in their careers with only one goal in mind. “Like every other team, we’re going in with the attitude that we want to win. The Scotties last year were amazing, playing in a packed arena in front of a home crowd. At the Trials, Winnipeg fans are really knowledgeable when it comes to curling, so we’re expecting another great experience.”
“You Gotta Be There” when the top 16 teams in Canadian curling compete in the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, Dec. 1-8 in the MTS Centre. Purchase your tickets today by clicking here.