By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Team Toba’s curling teams (men’s, women’s, and mixed doubles) are selected and ready to step onto the ice next month in PEI.
They qualified for the national event in a provincial championship in November, but the Canada Winter Games competition is just getting started.
More Demanding Than You Might Think
With the Games mere weeks away, the head coaches talk about what it takes to train for the highly anticipated competition.
And the mental and physical demands of curling are substantial.
“I think there is maybe a common misconception that curling maybe isn’t as physically demanding as other sports,” said Graham Freeman, Head Coach of Team Toba’s men’s curling team. “But certainly a lot of curlers will tell you ‘Well, go grab a broom and sweep for two hours, three times a day in three separate games, eight to 10 games in a weekend or over four days’, so fitness is definitely important.”
Keith Stoesz, Head Coach of Team Toba women’s curling team, emphasizes how important team dynamics are when you’re playing with a relatively small group.
“Everybody knows that everybody is going to miss a shot at some point. And they have to be okay with it. Having that ability to mentally focus on your game, not blame your teammates for something, it’s critical,” said Keith. “To me, the Canada Games team that’s going to deal with the mental aspects the best is probably going to be the team that wins.”
For mixed doubles curling, there’s a shared responsibility among only two players, adding yet another element to the game.
“They have to come up with the plan, select the correct ice and weight for their shot, throw the rock, and then in many cases, sweep their own rock,” said Tim Arbuckle, Head Coach of Team Toba’s mixed doubles curling team. “Just because you are a good curler, doesn’t mean you will be good at mixed doubles curling. It takes practice.”
Team Toba Goals
The mixed doubles team is aiming to curl well and qualify for the playoff round.
Graham said the men’s team is going into the event with an open mind, but they’re confident in their abilities.
“Coming from Manitoba, [it has] always been a strong curling province,” said Graham. “I know for sure the boys ultimately would love to go there and be the champions. Why not? We might as well not be afraid to go and do the best we can.”
Outside of striving for gold, he said if they can do their best, they’ll be satisfied and take in the Games.
“My biggest goal for the team is to make sure they enjoy the experience,” said Keith. “To me, number two is if we can make the medal round, that’d be great.”
A Life-Long Sport
Once the Games are over, curlers have many years ahead if they choose to stay in the game.
Three of the girls on the women’s team are graduating high school this year, and Keith said they are already considering looking at post secondary education that has curling as an option.
“Curling is a sport you can play for life, into your fifties and sixties, and be a good recreation curler as well. I’m not putting any expectations on the girls to be the next Jennifer Jones, but if they want to strive for that, they certainly have the opportunity to do that.”
And if competing as an athlete isn’t for them anymore, there’s still plenty of avenues for their passion.
“If they’re done wanting to move on as a competitor, they can move into a volunteer role, an organizational-type role, a coach role. So the opportunities for curlers after the Canada Games are endless, honestly. They’ll be there for a long time if they wish to pursue them,” said Graham.