It’s shaping up to be a very busy winter of curling for Sudbury native Abby Deschene, which only seems to be the norm for the more competitive folks in these parts.
The 20-year-old graduate of Lockerby Composite confirmed recently her involvement with a handful of different teams for the winter of 2021-22, including the formation of the locally based women’s rink that will feature Marie-Elaine Little at skip, Deschene at vice, New Brunswick native Keira McLaughlin at second and Zoe Valliere at lead.
Throw in some mixed doubles participation with Jake Horgan and at least a crack at the U20/U21 junior playdowns and one can see that if there is curling to be had this year, as most expect there will be, Deschene is likely to be right in the thick of things.
While Deschene has played before with Valliere and is familiar with McLaughlin (who is dating local curler Tanner Horgan), the inclusion of Little comes, in part, via a third-party Sudbury connection.
“It was Kira (Brunton) who recommended I reach out to Marie,” said Deschene, alluding to the Ottawa native who recently moved to Toronto. “We were looking for another back-end player. We reached out and it seemed like a good fit – she will be the designated out-of-province player.”
Though much of her curling experience has been as the last rock thrower, the third-year business administration/accounting major at Laurentian University is more than happy to slide back one slot, allowing the 24 year old to tap into a few years of additional experience.
“It will definitely be nice to get back into sweeping; I kind of missed it,” said Deschene. “I will be providing a more supportive role. I think consciously or subconsciously, a skip will call a game catered to the last shot that they want to throw.
“As a vice, you are supportive and try and provide insight, but ultimately, the skip should call what they feel comfortable with because you’re more likely to get a better result if somebody likes the shot they are throwing.”
In both Little and McLaughlin, the two northern girls will welcome aboard highly accomplished curlers, with the latter having lost to Brunton in the 2017 Canadian U18 final when she was a member of the Justine Comeau (New Brunswick) foursome.
But perhaps more than anything else, the key these days in team composition is to ensure that the quartet shares a singular mindset, an approach they are bringing to the newly formed gathering of talent.
“We all have the commitment, we are all on the same page in that regard, which is really exciting,” said Deschene. “When we hit the ice, it will be about translating our hard work into performance at the moment.”
While the tentative plan calls for scheduled stops on both the Ontario Curling Tour and the World Tour, Team Little is also focused on the NOCA Scotties, with the new skip bringing a little added bonus to the table.
“She (Marie-Elaine) has ice tech background, which should translate nicely into skipping, noticing pebbling patterns, understanding the way that ice works,” said Deschene.
In other recent curling news, Curling Canada confirmed their rather convoluted process towards declaring Olympic representation for the country, a collection of events that features fields of 27 teams of both men’s and women’s curlers.
It’s of little surprise then that there should be a few local folks in the mix.
Tracy Fleury and her Manitoba rink of Selena Njegovan, Liz Fyfe and Kristin MacCuish are joined by teams skipped by Kerri Einarson, Rachel Homan and Jennifer Jones in having earned a direct entry to Olympic Trials, taking place Nov. 20-28 in Saskatoon.
Five more crews will eventually round out the grouping of nine teams that will vie for the coveted berth. The Krista McCarville Thunder Bay rink, which features Sudbury native and vice-skip Kendra Lilly, are just one step away, but will need to navigate through a competition that will welcome no less than 14 entries.
That collection of talent will congregate in Liverpool (Nova Scotia) Oct. 26-31, with the top two teams advancing to Saskatoon.
Finally, Kira Brunton and the Ottawa-based Lauren Mann foursome need to work their way through two events just to reach Olympic Trials.
Team Mann is one of eight squads heading to Ottawa from Sept. 22 to Sept. 26, with two of those teams then joining the McCarville field in Nova Scotia.
As for the men, it’s a little bit more simple as local hopes rest with siblings Tanner and Jake Horgan and their new rink of Jonathan Beuk, Wesley Forget and Scott Chadwick (formerly Team McDonald).
Those gents, currently based out of Kingston, will also head east in late October, ironically, where they will be joined by Team (Pat) Simmons out of Winnipeg, which was the previous Horgan team.
All in all, there should be plenty of drama ahead, for the curlers, and plenty of fun for the fans.