With a full house of supporters awaiting her return back to the party upstairs at the Stratton Curling Club last Friday, Angela Lee had other thoughts on her mind.
After just being inundated with a chorus of accolades and congratulations for her rink’s unbelievable run in capturing the Northern Ontario junior women’s playdowns in Iroquois Falls the previous weekend, Lee and her crew of third Lisa Bolen, second Danielle Shrumm, and lead Sarah Boily were asked to pose for a series of pictures and interviews.
But after the last picture was snapped of the provincial champs taking a practice shot, Lee made a suggestion.
“Boy, did that feel good. I wish we could stay out here and make a few shots,” she enthused.
It’s that dedication—and love for the game of curling—that has transformed this relatively unknown rink into one that will compete for the national crown in Kelowna, B.C. on Feb. 6-14.
It’s a feeling shared by the whole rink, and one of the main reasons they’ve been so successful this season.
Never before has a rink from Stratton advanced to the national level. So it was only fitting they were given a rousing party Friday night, when the upstairs of the Stratton club was filled with supporters offering their congratulations and encouragement to the new champs.
They also were on hand to help ease the financial burden of the trip to Kelowna. So far, donations (which will go towards the girls’ air fare and accommodations) are estimated to be around $5,000.
“The response from individuals and businesses has been overwhelming,” coach Terry Lee said, wishing to thank everyone who contributed.
Morley Reeve Gary Gamsby gave a brief speech, praising the rink’s accomplishment and acknowledging all their hours of hard work have begun to pay off.
“These girls really exhibit teamwork and a dedication to their sport, and those attributes will carry them a long, long way, not only in Kelowna, but in life,” Gamsby said.
The Lee rink certainly took note of how the community rallied around them. And it was a sendoff that left them proud of the fact they learned their skills through the junior program in Stratton.
“[Winning the provincial title] means more for us coming from a smaller community like Stratton,” said Lee, 17, in her first year as skip at the junior level.
“Other clubs have more money and can play better competition but I think this support gives us the extra edge,” she noted. “It really makes us feel good.
“It means a lot for them to root for us,” she added.
Making the trip to Kelowna with them will be a family and friends to lend support but they don’t feel the pressure of competing for a national title—at least not yet.
“I think once we get there, it might start to sink in,” predicted Shrumm.