While much of the hype lately has been surrounding the men’s hockey and basketball teams competing in national championships, there is another Brock team looking to bring home some banners. After the men earned gold and the women earned a bronze in OUA, both of the curling teams will be travelling to Alberta later this month to compete in the U SPORTS/Curling Canada Curling Championship.
Curling tends to fly under the radar at Brock, the team has been successful over the last few years and is looking to reach the next level this season. For both the men and women, the goal since the start of the season was to qualify for the championship — a goal which has been realized.
“The men had come off their second consecutive OUA Bronze medal and wanted to get to play in the Gold Medal game,” said Murray Etherington, head coach of both the men’s and women’s curling teams. “The women had a bit of unfinished business from last year after going 7-0 in pool play and then losing the Quarter-Final game. The two previous years Badger women’s teams had won OUA Silver and these women wanted to get (back) to Nationals.”
The goal was set high, but according to Etherington, there was no doubt within the program that these teams were capable of reaching it.
“We really felt right from the start that the men’s and women’s teams had the ability and confidence to reach their goals. I truly believe everyone in our program, athletes and coaches were confident that both men and women could medal,” said Etherington.
For the men’s team, this was their first OUA gold medal since the 2006-07 season. A single in the eighth end was the difference in the match, as the Badgers defeated the Ryerson Rams in the final by a score of 6-5.
“The men winning OUA Gold is huge for our program in terms of recognition at Brock, recruiting future student/curlers and it proves to everyone that we have one of the best high-performance university curling programs in Canada,” said Etherington.
The women also won their bronze medal match by a score of 6-5, beating the Lakehead Thunderwolves. The OUA medals are worth celebrating for both teams and luckily they came at a time when they were able to celebrate properly. With the win coming on Family Day, members of both teams were able to go home and celebrate over reading week.
Once back to school, the Badgers eased their way back into training and now it is back to business as usual, as they turn their attention to the national championships beginning on March 24.
“Now that we have had a bit of a break since the OUAs, we have started to have our weekly team meetings with our Brock student/sports psychologists Elyse Gorrell and Jack Sampson. Our sort of mantra this season has been that we do not concentrate on who we play, just execute our shots like we know that we can and everything will take care of itself,” said Etherington.
Mentally, the focus is on how to avoid some of the distractions that can come with playing on a big stage and trying to overcome nerves. Physically, practices are based on improving on past experiences and learning how to deal with them better.
“On the physical side, our practices are based around game situations. Situations from OUAs that we could have played better, typical shots that each individual is most likely to play in a game. We are going to be prepared and ready to play our best. We are confident that both men and women can medal in Leduc, Alberta and will leave it all on the ice,” said Etherington.
Both the men’s and women’s team have played well all year long, but a few players really stood out for their performance this year.
“On the women’s team, Alternate Jeanette Burnside has stepped up and Jeanette is probably the reason that the women got into the playoffs after going 3-3 in the shortened round robin pool. Jeanette wouldn’t let her teammates get down after a loss and her positive outlook during timeouts and in pre-game and post-game meetings was the difference,” said Etherington. “But it was Vice Jamie Waters returning to our program after taking a year off who was the biggest game changer for the men this season. Jamie did a great job supporting Eric Bradey in shot selection and in trusting Eric’s ability to make that last shot to win the game.”
With just one tournament left, the Brock men’s and women’s curling teams will be aiming to add to the collection of banners that various other teams have already won this season. With the way their seasons have been going and the confidence within the program, the Badgers are more than capable of improving on their already impressive season with a strong performance in Alberta.