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MQFT with Selena Sturmay

This week, John sits down with Selena Sturmay, the first junior ladies’ skip to go undefeated at the Canadian Juniors since Rachel Homan did it in 2010 and only the fifth ladies team to ever do so at a Canadian Juniors. Selena also won the Alberta Juniors in 2016 as well as the 2018 Usports Curling Championship and she’ll be heading to the Winter Universiade this year representing the University of Alberta.

Welcome to Magical Question Fun Time, the Curling Canada feature in which comedian John Cullen sits down with your favourite curlers for interviews like you have never seen. Each interview will feature eight questions: five standard questions for each curler, two questions specific to the featured curler, and one question provided by the previous curler interviewed.

Selena Sturmay in action at the 2019 New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Prince Albert, Sask. (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

1. We’re at the first question and normally I’m not exactly sure what my guests will say, but with yours I think I have a pretty good idea: what’s the nicest shot you’ve ever been a part of?

Selena Sturmay: Well, there was the shot to win provincials in 2016…

John Cullen: That would be the one I’m talking about.

SS: So there was that one, but there’s also another one I want to say because it’ll bug my second, Kate (Goodhelpsen). [laughs] It was against her team in the Lloydminster event in 2016 as well, and it was really tough. It was an angle runback on a corner guard that was just over the hogline, and I had to make it to pick theirs off ours on the button for two. I made it, and we went on to win the game. I figured I had to bring it up, just for Kate.

JC: I remember that one too! (Watch here.).  What was it like having your provincial-winning shot go viral? Or I mean, as viral as anything can go in curling?

SS: It was pretty unreal. I didn’t even think the shot was there, to be honest. I thought we could MAYBE make the blank, but I had no idea we could get one to stick around for the win. I remember the whole end super vividly, and to be able to make that to win the province and have people see it was pretty special.

2. If there was an action figure made of you, what non-curling accessory would it come with?

SS: I read Shannon Birchard’s interview, and I noticed she said her dog, so I don’t want to repeat that answer, but my boyfriend has a golden doodle and she’s SO cute. I even put her in my curling uniform for a picture, but she ate it after about a minute. [laughs] So I’ll say, maybe my nursing scrubs?

JC: Ooh, we haven’t had anyone give their action figure an alternate costume, I like it. Although scrubs is a pretty boring alternate costume.

SS: [laughs] It really is, and my team makes fun of me all the time because I wear them like 90 per cent of the time when I’m not curling. I’m a nursing student at the U of A, so I often have to come straight from clinical to curling practice and I’ll be wearing them. So yeah, I guess my extra costume is both boring and ugly. But accurate to me. [laughs]

3. If you were forced to rob a bank, which two curlers—you can’t choose more than one teammate—would you choose to be on your squad, and what role would you play?

SS: I want to choose Ben Hebert first, just because I feel like at some point if you’re robbing a bank, you need a guy with muscles to help you pull it off. And secondly, I would choose Jennifer Jones. She’s a lawyer, so I feel like if we got caught, she would be able to help us finagle our way out of it.

Jennifer Jones would be a valuable accomplice in a bank heist because she’s a lawyer: “If we got caught, she would be able to help us finagle our way out of it.” (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

JC: Great choice! We have had a few people choose Jennifer, but not for the lawyer aspect. You’re really thinking ahead here.

SS: I have faith she could get us out of a tight squeeze.

JC: And what would your role be?

SS: I really want to say something super cool but I’m so terrified of doing anything illegal that I just can’t even imagine what I’d do. Be scared, I guess? [laughs] My team has done a few escape rooms as team-building exercises and I literally do nothing right. I just stand there and watch my team do it. My brain just does not work that way. I feel like if I can’t get out of an escape room, I certainly can’t rob a bank.

4. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

SS: This is hard, because I’ve only had two jobs and they’re both great. I’m a lifeguard and a swim instructor in Beaumont, just south of Edmonton, and my summer job is working in a golf pro shop. I love golf and I get free rounds, so it’s almost impossible to complain about that.

JC: Well, I do allow students to tell me about the worst course they’ve ever taken.

SS: Oh, okay, yeah, I have something for that. In my first year of nursing, I had to take this medical microbiology class with all of the prospective medical students and dentistry students, and it was so hard. I was already nervous about it and then when we got there, we found out we were graded on a curve, so I’m in a class with all these future geniuses and panicking. I remember the night before the final I called my mom crying, saying, “I’m going to fail this course!” and she had to console me. And I wasn’t the only one, I had like six or seven nursing friends who all cried over this exam. It was brutal.

JC: Did you end up doing ok?

SS: Surprisingly, yes. But it was so hard, I had to take whatever I could get.

5. What’s a stupid thing you incorrectly believed was true for a long time?

SS: Once again, I’d love to just be cool and act like I never did anything wrong and I’m super sweet.

JC: Well you could always lie and say that. [laughs]

SS: [laughs] I’m too honest, John. I have to be true to myself, and this one came to mind immediately. I remember when I was young, maybe grade 1 or 2, I believed that my mom sent spies after me to school to keep an eye on what I was doing. [laughs] It sounds insane, but she used to be able to figure out everything that happened in a school day and I swore she was watching me.

JC: [laughs] Oh my gosh! Were you checking your schoolyard for spies?

SS: No, it was nothing like that, but I remember one time coming home in grade 1 and I had gotten my first detention ever. My mom asked me how my day was, and I said fine and that nothing special had happened, and then she just kept asking these detailed questions and I thought, “How could she know all this stuff?” I think I eventually told the truth.

JC: So maybe she didn’t have spies, but you’re just a bad liar, as you said.

SS: But the questions were so detailed! Spies for sure. [laughs]

Selena Sturmay and Alberta teammate Kate Goodhelpsen celebrate their gold medal at the 2019 New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Prince Albert, Sask. (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

6. Now we move on to the Selena Sturmay-specific questions. As you’ve alluded to, you are a Nursing student at the U of A, and I just have to ask: what’s your craziest nursing story? Everyone I know that’s a nurse has one.

SS: I have so many, oh gosh. It’s not a specific story, per se, but I did a placement on a psychiatry unit this past semester. I was on a mental health rotation in the Alberta Hospital. It was a short-term stay, but seeing some patients with six guards around them, being warned not to be near them, it was a real eye-opener for me.

JC: My girlfriend works in a similar field and I know it can get pretty intense sometimes.

SS: It does, but you know, there’s a stigma there too. I think a lot of people assume that mental health patients are automatically violent, but with most of them, they’re actually probably victims of violence and not violent at all. It was surprising for me because I think I had that assumption too, but most of them aren’t violent and it’s just normal working with them.

7. All right, it’s time to settle this in writing. Who’s the better curler, you or your brother, Karsten?

SS: [laughs] I would really like to say it’s me, but it’s probably him. He’s a really good curler and has lots of achievements behind him, so I have to say him. We have this weird tradition in our family where it seems he has to win something first before I can win it.

JC: But you did win the Canadian Juniors and he didn’t do that.

SS: That’s true, and it’s something I’ve been reminding him of often. [laughs] Though to be fair, I just feel bad, he was really unlucky not to win it. I was there watching and it was tough. So I try not to be too hard on him.

JC: I assume you two must play one-on-one a lot. You’re saying you never come out the winner?

SS: We do play relatively often, usually the last 30 minutes or so of practice is one-on-one. I’ll say that unless he’s having a really bad day and misses a lot, he usually wins.

JC: This is the kindest anyone has ever been to their sibling, especially when I’m encouraging you not to be. [laughs]

SS: [laughs] We are just very honest with each other, and he’s a really good curler. I can’t choose now to lie about it.

Selena Sturmay says big brother Karsten is the better curler: “I would really like to say it’s me, but it’s probably him. He’s a really good curler.” (Curling Canada photo)

8. And finally, our last question comes in from Matt Hamilton, and it’s a three-pronged query. You ready?

SS: Wow, yes. I think I can handle it.

JC: Okay, number one, what does it mean to you to wear the Maple Leaf?

SS: Well, I think every Canadian curler’s dream is to put the Maple Leaf on, because you know that so many good curlers have worn it before you, and you feel the honour and pride that comes with that. There’s a pressure too, but it’s a good pressure.

JC: Number two, how does it feel to be the first skip to go undefeated in nine years (at the Canadian Juniors)?

SS: It is definitely a pretty great outcome. [laughs] Honestly, it wasn’t something I really thought about. We just wanted to win the event and didn’t think about that stuff. I think we knew going into the final that it was possible, but certainly once the game starts, it’s not something you think about. We felt really confident, having beaten B.C. earlier in the week, that we would have a good chance of beating them again, and that’s about it. It actually didn’t even sink in when we won until a reporter asked me about it after the game, and I thought “Wow, that’s pretty cool”. When you look at the list of great curlers to have done it, it’s definitely an honour to be in that company.

JC: And finally, do you think curling with a mustache would help or hinder your ability to do well at Worlds? [laughs] I’m sorry I had to ask that.

SS: [laughs] I figured with Matt something ridiculous was coming. I would say hinder, only because I wouldn’t be able to deal with all the social media attention that would come from it. He handled it extremely well and I know there’s no chance I could pull it off as well as he does.

JC: Fantastic! Lastly, I need a question from you for my next guest, who will be your World Juniors teammate, Matt Hall.

SS: Oh! Okay, I know that he has a nickname, which is Hot Dog. So can you ask him how he got that nickname and explain why he still goes by it.

JC: That’s perfect. I was going to ask him about it anyway, so you’re doing my job for me! Thanks for this Selena, and best of luck at Junior Worlds!

As always, you can follow John on Twitter @cullenthecurler and his curling interview podcast, Stone + Straw, at @stonestrawpod. You can follow Selena at @Selena_Sturmay.

Next stop, World Junior Championships in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Selena Sturmay, third Abby Marks, second Kate Goodhelpsen and lead Paige Papley with the trophy after defeating B.C. 9-6 to capture the New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championship in Prince Albert, Sask. (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)