MQFT with Rachel Brown!

Rachel Brown, in action at the 2019 LGT World Women’s Curling Championship in Denmark. (Photo, World Curling Federation/Céline Stucki)

Get to know Rachel Brown of Team Canada!

This week, John sits down with Rachel Brown, winner of last year’s Scotties with Team Chelsea Carey and a four-time Alberta provincial champion. Rachel has also participated in two Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, and is well-known for her close friendship with long-time teammate Dana Ferguson, and they run their own Instagram account, @pooksandfergie. Team Canada will be attempting to defend its championship at the 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, beginning Feb. 15 in Moose Jaw, Sask.

Welcome to Magical Question Fun Time, the Curling Canada feature where 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 that will be asked to each curler, two questions specific to that curler, and one question that the curler interviewed before them asks.

1. What’s the best shot you’ve ever been a part of?

Rachel Brown: OK, so this is going to be a weird one for everyone. Because obviously I’ve played with some great skips who have made some great shots, and I’m a lead, so I’ve made some pretty important ticks, I guess. [laughs] Let’s be honest, my shots mean nothing. [laughs] But my choice is actually from a mixed funspiel.

(Photo, World Curling Federation/Céline Stucki)

John Cullen: Ooooh! I love it! Go on.

RB: So I was playing in a mixed funspiel with my husband, Cody, Dana, and a fourth person I can’t remember.

JC: Just whoever Dana was dating at the time, I’m guessing.

RB: Her flavour of the month, yes. [laughs] So my husband is not a curler, he had barely played at this point, and he was playing third. The opposition had a rock on the button, and there was a centre guard JUST over the hog line, and a few corner guards as well. So I called a double peel, figuring that no matter where he hit the centre guard, he’d likely get some sort of double peel. Well, he threw the rock horribly and ended up nosing the centre guard just over the hogline and ran it straight back onto the one on the button, dead nutted. Just completely buried. John, it was the longest stuck runback I’ve ever seen in my life. Like the rock he hit back just didn’t even curl? It was insane. So that one sticks out to me. [laughs]

JC: I was just commentating at the Canadian Juniors and we actually had a rock fully over the other side of the hogline, so I understand how cool it is when long runbacks are made.

RB: Yes! That’s how long this was, his shooter was basically on the hogline after. We ended up stealing one, it was great.

2. What is a non-curling possession you just can’t seem to get rid of?

RB: Oh. Oh jeez. Well, John, I’m a hoarder, so this is really hard for me. I hang on to everything. Like, if you came in my house, you wouldn’t notice it right away, because it’s pretty minimalist on the upper floors. But my basement…it’s my hoarding room. It’s unfinished, and so I just keep everything down there. I have a mini-trampoline down there. Why? I have no idea. I guess I’m just assuming at some point I’ll have a fitness routine that might require it? [laughs]

JC: [laughs] Oh boy. Does your husband hate this?

RB: Everyone does. I remember when we moved, Sarah (Wilkes, Team Carey’s vice-skip) helped us move, and she was looking in boxes at stuff saying, “really, Rachel? You’re making me carry this to your new house?” She couldn’t believe I wasn’t throwing stuff away. Oh, I have a neon Nintendo sign too. I don’t think I’ve ever put it up, but what if when we finish the basement, we decide to do an arcade theme? [laughs] Once we finish the basement, I’ll get rid of some stuff. Probably.

3. OK, so I was originally going to retire this question before this season, but when I told you that, you were upset because you said you had a great answer for it. So this is it. The last time this question gets asked in MQFT. Do a great job and we can retire it with a blaze of glory. You’re forced to rob a bank. You can only choose two curlers to help you — only one can be on your current team — to do it. Who do you choose and why?

RB: Yes! I’m so glad. This was one question I really thought out. OK. So I’m choosing Dana, of course. She is actually going to apply and get a job at the bank. Here’s the thing: everyone LOVES Dana. She’s gonna be there for a few months, but she is gonna make friends. She’s gonna plan a few baby showers, bring in muffins every Friday. Eventually, she’s going to get those codes.

JC: I like where this is going.

RB: My other curler is Brad Thiessen. We pose as a married couple, looking for financial advice. He’s strong, but he’s also smart, so he makes the perfect choice for fake husband in this scenario. Now, we want to make an appointment, but we also don’t want to be bothered during the day, because we are obviously both too famous from curling. Don’t want to be recognized.

JC: [laughs] Yes. Too famous for sure.

RB: So we go in after hours, and we’re meeting with Dana, who now has the vault codes because she’s beloved. We just waltz into the vault, steal all the money, and drive away in my Ford Edge. If there’s some sort of issue, Brad can take care of it with his muscles. But there won’t be, because it’s a perfect plan.

JC: What about Dana though? Won’t they suspect something because she knows the codes?

RB: No, because she’ll work there for months after. Maybe get a promotion. [laughs] She’s the screen, and we won’t get caught. The Scotties are in two weeks, she can’t be in jail.

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

RB: So one summer I wanted to go to Four Foot Curling Camp…

JC: Four Foot! Some amazing memories there for me. I was a counsellor there in 2004 and 2005.

RB: We just missed each other! I think this was 2002 or 2003. Anyway, I really wanted to go, but my parents told me that they weren’t going to pay for it outright, and that if I wanted to go, I had to earn it. My whole team at the time wanted to go, we were just a junior team, we hadn’t won anything, but we had to do it. So my parents told us that they would pay for all of us to go if we scraped and painted a fence at our house. My parents have 100 acres. It was a lot of fence. [laughs]

JC: Oh my gosh. Too much fence.

RB: It turned out that way. Every day it was just so awful out, so hot, so sticky, the paint fumes, it sucked. One day, I really wasn’t feeling good. I thought it was just being so hot, but I went to the doctor and turns out I had mono. So I was painting a fence in the heat with mono. I had to be on bed rest for a week, I got so sick. I figured that was it, my fence-painting days were over. But nope, as soon as I could get out of bed, my parents put me back on the fence. It was the WORST.

JC: How did Four Foot turn out?

RB: Well, as I’m sure you know, mono doesn’t exactly give you the most energy and it takes a long time to get out of your system. So I was still a bit sick at camp and couldn’t do everything we were supposed to. But I was able to curl, and I learned a ton. So that was good.

Rachel Brown, left, celebrates the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts victory with teammates Dana Ferguson, Chelsea Carey and Sarah Wilkes. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

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

RB: I thought that the teachers lived at the school. But doesn’t everyone think that? I remember when teachers were away sick, I would be so confused, because I just thought, “where do they go?” 

JC: As a teacher myself, I can confirm kids still think this. They’ll get so weird about seeing you in public.

RB: And my kids do too! They’ll see me on TV, and they’ll be so confused. “Mrs. Brown, I saw you on TV, what were you doing there?”

JC: It is very odd. You’d think they understand we are people with lives.

RB: The kids will criticize me too, it’s definitely funny being on TV somewhat often, they just don’t fully understand it. They’ll ask me about my shooting percentages, they’ll bug me about my hair. They give me a lot of grief in general, it keeps me humble. [laughs]

6. Now we move on to one of the Rachel Brown-specific questions, and I have to say, this one has annoyed me for a while. Why do so many people insist on calling you “Rachel” (sounds like Ray-chell)? I’ve known you since we were kids, and you’re Rachelle (which is how her name his pronounced, despite the spelling).

RB: So this one is kind of on me. Well, on my mom. When I was born, my mom spelled my name one way on my birth certificate, and another way on my CareCard. We never realized it until I turned 16 and went to get my driver’s licence, and then realized it was spelled “Rachel” on my birth certificate. I had been “Rachelle” for 16 years and spelled it that way, said it that way, and then we found out my mom screwed up.

JC: Oh no.

RB: So I asked the driver’s licence office about it, and they said it would be way more difficult to change my name on my birth certificate than my driver’s licence and CareCard, and to just stick with Rachel. So that’s why people mess it up, and I can’t really get mad at them. Any time I have to do anything official, I have to sign Rachel. It is what it is, but I realized I have no names I was born with. I was born Rachel Pidherny, now I’m Rachel Brown. [laughs]

JC: This makes way more sense to me. I could never figure out how it got misspelled SO often when I saw it in print.

RB: I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to blame my mom, but I was so worried when my son Finn was born that I would misspell it, or whatever. My mom always blamed being pregnant and just having a baby for spelling it wrong on my birth certificate, but then I had Finn and it was so easy. They send you the forms several days after you have the kid, you’re of completely sound mind. It has nothing to do with pregnancy brain. Sorry mom. [laughs]

7. And because you are a lead, and I am a lead, we get to play my favourite game called: Lead 2 Lead! I’m going to ask you a few questions about leads (because we don’t get enough love), and you can answer honestly. Here we go. Which lead would make the best skip?

RB: Oh gosh. That’s a tough one. We’re lead for a reason, right? [laughs] Oh, Nadine Scotland! She just started playing lead this year, but was a skip the rest of her career. So, her.

JC: That seems like cheating a bit.

RB: But she is a lead! No question she’d be the best, too. That has to be my answer.

JC: Fine, I will allow it. How about which lead would make the worst skip?

RB: [pauses] It has to be me. I know you probably don’t want me to answer myself, but I just really think it would be me. I am SO bad at calling line, I would be the worst on tour, easily. One time I got hurt and I had to be in the house when we were playing with Val (Sweeting), and I couldn’t even call line. Val had to like, step back from the rock and see what was happening to call line herself while sweeping. It was so bad.

JC: I normally don’t allow that, but I will in this case because I also know I would make an awful skip. Which lead has the best style?

RB: Hm, probably Sofia Mabergs.

JC: Everyone says her.

RB: It makes sense. She’s so rockin’ and cool. 

JC: Rockin’ and cool. [laughs]

RB: Yeah! Rockin’ and cool. [laughs]

JC: And finally, if you couldn’t play, which lead do you think could best replace you on your team?

RB: Ben Hebert, I think. I know he’s a man, but he would really be the one because I’m pretty, well, vocal, on the ice, and that’s what the team is used to. And Dana too. Dana and I talk a lot, we’re always communicating when we sweep, we’re always chatting up and down the ice, while the back end is deciding what to play. We need someone who can keep up, and Benny is the guy since he loves to talk as much as we do.

8. And this final question comes to us from Braeden Moskowy. Where did you learn your dance moves?

RB: Well, I used to be QUITE the dancer, John. I was competitive, I was in dance for a number of years. I did hip-hop and tap, and if anyone wants to see a tap number, I’ve got a couple.

JC: Tap is so hard. I taught a dance class for a bit and I sort of assumed that as long as you had the shoes on, you could make it sound cool. Not be good at it, or anything. But at least make it sound sort of good. You cannot.

RB: No, you can’t. It’s really hard. I’ll bring my tap shoes to school and the kids love it. Everyone else probably hates that, now that I think about it. [laughs] We do a dance unit at school every year, and it keeps my skills sharp for when we need to dance at the Scotties. I just love it.

JC: Wonderful! Thanks Rachel for this, and what question do you have for my next guest, the Canadian Junior champ, Jacques Gauthier?

RB: Ooh, ok. If you were to win worlds and get a Maple Leaf tattoo in memory of it, where would you get it, and what would the general style be?

JC: I like that!

RB: I always said if I won the Scotties, I would get a Maple Leaf tattoo. But then I did, and I didn’t. [laughs] Maybe I will eventually now that I’ve admitted it in an interview, but I don’t know. We’ll see what Jacques says!

JC: Awesome. Thanks Rachel and best of luck at the Scotties!

As always, you can follow John on Twitter @cullenthecurler, and you can follow Rachel on Twitter at @pooksbrown, and you can follow Rachel on Instagram at @Rachellebrwn or @pooksandfergie.

Curling Canada