Two women’s teams at the Northern Ontario Curling provincials will represent curling clubs in the Rainy River District. Team Jacki McCormic will curl out of the Stratton Curling Club and Team Hailey Beaudry will represent the Fort Frances curling club.
Both teams will face some challenges as neither of them has been able to practice regularly with all four members.
The McCormick rink consists of Skip Jackie McCormick, Vice Crystal Taylor, Second Jennifer Gates and Lead Amanda Gates.
McCormick plays on a successful mixed team with Amanda and they decided to put a team together for the provincials in Kenora for last year, however that tournament was cancelled because of a COVID-19 spike at the time.
“Amanda Gates who plays mixed with us said ‘let’s put a women’s team together,’” McCormick said. “I said ‘sure’ and we got her sister on board and then we thought of Crystal. So we made this team for last year, but provincials were cancelled last year in Kenora.”
The Beaudry rink is made up of Hailey Beaudry at Skip, Vice Erin Tomalty, Victoria Beaudry at Second, and Hilary Smith at Lead.
The Beaudry team is split with two members in Kenora and two in Fort Frances. So the two halves of the team practice separately.
“We’ve all been friends for a long time,” Hailey said. “We’re looking forward to spending time curling with each other. I think that’s our greatest strength. With the dynamics on ice we probably won’t be as familiar but for Erin and myself it will be like riding a bike, we know each other’s throws, we’ve found a lot of success curling together in the past.
Hailey and Tomalty have played together for a long time going back to days with the Fort Frances High School Muskies curling team and then playing together in university where they teamed up with Smith.
The McCormick team hasn’t played much together at all.
“Not everybody had met until the weekend before Christmas,” McCormick said. “We were in Eveleth for a cash spiel. So I knew Amanda and Jen Gates, and I know Crystal because we played juniors against each other being from the northwest, but they didn’t know each other. So we actually met as a team like December 18.”
As a group the team has a lot of experience having played at provincial, national and even internationally with other teams and other curling disciplines.
Jennifer Gates has played with provincials favourites team Krista McCarville and played with Kelsey Rocque’s team out of Alberta while at the University of Alberta, for some time as well. Amanda Gates has played with McCormick in mixed curling and gone to the world championships as part of Team Trevor Bonot. Taylor has played at the provincial level in junior and mixed as well.
Both skips, McCormick and Beaudry are hoping to represent their clubs well.
“Well our goal is to play our best that we can,” Beaudry said. “Everyone wants to advance but there’s seven teams in the field and only one gets to go forward. But if we can go there and represent the Fort Frances Curling Club the best that we can and be good role models for our community… then that’s perfect too.”
McCormick said in practicing at the Stratton Curling Club she’s felt the support from everyone there.
“The Stratton community is awesome for support for curling,” McCormick said. “There’s been so many good luck wishes. Thursday night when I was leaving my league game just about every single person said good luck… I’ve been playing there for a long time, my family is a pretty strong curling family out of there so we do have lots of support going from the Stratton Curling Club for sure.”
McCormick’s brother Trevor Bonot will also lead a rink out of the Fort William Curling Club in Thunder Bay.
Fort Frances High School Muskies curling alumnus Owen Riches will also be curling with team Burgess out of the Port Arthur Curling Club from Thunder Bay.
Action at the Northern Ontario Curling Championships got underway at 8:30 this morning. Results are available at curlnoca.ca and a streaming link may be found there as well.