Back in the hack

Krista McCarville competes at the TBayTel Major League of Curling last week at the Port Arthur Curling Club. McCarville’s rink will open their competitive cashpiel season this week in Stroud, Ont.

Three weeks into the local curling season and you may be wondering what is going on with Krista McCarville.

Team McCarville announced this week their defending Northern Ontario Scotties champion squad will be playing a limited competitive schedule starting this weekend and a season without lead Sarah Potts.

Potts, the daughter of Rick and Lorraine Lang, is expecting her first children, that’s right children — twins — and will only play the local TBayTel Major League games as long as physically possible.

Team McCarville see their first competitive action of the season this weekend in Stroud, Ont., near Ottawa.

The lineup will have Kendra Lilly at third, Ashley Sippala at second and Jennifer Gates at lead. Sippala is returning after sitting out last year with the birth of her second child. Lilly and Gates, both from Sudbury, are back as part of the McCarville squad that finished fourth at the 2019 Scotties. McCarville lost the 3-4 Page playoff game to Rachel Homan after the two teams finished with 8-3 records. Gates finished with second-team all-star honours.

The spiel this weekend in Stroud is a small event with only eight teams. All the top-ranked teams are in Portage La Prairie, Man.

McCarville is only playing two other spiels — an international event in Kemptville, Ont., and the Mesabi Classic in Eveleth, Minn.

“The smaller events are basically just because of points, we are unable to get into the bigger bonspiels now. We were hoping to get into the Tier 2 spiel, but are too far down in the rankings,” said McCarville, referring to the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event that they played in last year when it was in Thunder Bay.

McCarville, who turns 37 in November, says a lighter schedule was her decision giving more time to her family especially with her husband Mike also playing competitive curling again this year.

“Family comes first and with Kalin and Bella getting older things are getting much busier and I do not want to take away from their activities.

“Bella is on a competitive girls hockey team and Kalin moved up to novice hockey so our family calendar is packed,” explains McCarville.

Speaking of family, Sarah and her husband Jordan Potts, also a competitive curler, decided it was time to step back from the game and plan for a family.

“Yes, we had decided together that it was the right time in our lives to prioritize family,” said Sarah Potts.

She admits it was a tough choice to step away from the competitive game.

“It’s a hard decision that I think a lot of people in sport have to face. I love curling and it is a huge part of my life, but there comes a point where you have to think about the bigger picture,” Potts said.

McCarville who stepped away from the game herself about four years ago, understands Potts’ decision.

However, for the first time in nine years, McCarville will be without her reliable setup person.

“I think I have been playing with Sarah since 2010. She has been a very big part of our team. It will be tough without her as we rely on her for a lot, on and off the ice,” said McCarville, adding “we are so happy for her and Jordan starting a family and experiencing that joy in their lives.”

Rick and Lorraine Lang, while excited about the prospect of their first grandchildren, are back to lend their coaching expertise for another season.

Make no mistake, Team McCarville is intent on another run to represent Northern Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with the Canadian women’s championships scheduled for Moose Jaw, Sask., Feb. 15-23.

Team McCarville will defend their Northern Ontario title at the provincials in New Liskeard Jan. 28-Feb. 2. Potts, who will be cheering from the sidelines, likes her team’s chances to repeat.

“The team will do great. Krista has proven time and time again that no matter who she plays with, she is successful,” said Potts. “It will be difficult to watch from the sidelines, but I will be their biggest fan.”

Potts plans to return next year especially if Thunder Bay is selected as 2021 hosts for the Scotties.

“Getting the Scotties would be an added bonus, but I’ve always wanted to return to curling after having kids. I have really supportive family members which I’m hoping will make this possible.”

As for McCarville and her seven trips to the Scotties so far, she has a more pragmatic outlook focusing on what is in front of her this year.

“It will be really exciting if we are to host the Scotties here in Thunder Bay. Right now in my life, I need to go year by year and feel out how the girls feel as well,” said McCarville, who is an elementary teacher at Holy Family School.

“Playing more is always so tough with teaching full time and having a family,” she added, “but also playing in a national event at home would be a extremely amazing experience. I think we will play this year and come together at the end of the season to discuss next year.”

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MAJOR LEAGUE TONIGHT: Seven teams look to improve their records to 2-0 as the major league heads into second-draw action of round robin play at the Port Arthur Curling Club tonight.

There are two matches of undefeated teams in the 9 p.m. draw.

Ben Mikkelsen battles Gary Weiss in showdown of current and past Northern Ontario men’s club curling champions, while the other game is a clash of senior skips as Scott Henderson faces Frank Morissette.

Al Hackner, Dylan Johnston and Mike McCarville look for their second wins against opponents looking to even their records. Hackner has a senior date with Ron Rosengren, Johnston draws the under-21 squad skipped by Jonathon Vellinga and McCarville takes on Trevor Bonot.

The other two games to round out the draw are battles of winless teams. Krista McCarville plays Lianne Fossum, while Bryan Burgess draws the under-18 rink skipped by newcomer Matt Duizer.

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AROUND THE CLUBS: The Kakabeka Falls Curling Club open its season on Tuesday so three local curling clubs, including Port Arthur and Fort William, are up and running.

There are still leagues looking for teams and teams looking for players, so if you are still looking to play this season, check with each of the local clubs to see if there are openings.

The FWCC continues to recruit teams for its upcoming World Series Bonspiel sponsored by Dog Lake Resort. Twenty-four teams are currently registered with eight more openings available for a 32-team field.

Interested teams can still sign up at the club bar or you can register online on the FWCC website.

If you have curling news or results from bonspiels to report, you can contact John Cameron by email: johncameron14@gmail.com or text 631-3032.

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