From left, skip Lois Fowler, third Gwen Wooley, second Lori Manning, lead Joan Robertson, fifth Jill Hazelwood and coach Brian Moffatt are honoured at a Brandon Curling Club sendoff for the provincial senior women’s champions on Tuesday night.
Lois Fowler doesn’t feel she’s going to her seventh national curling championship this week in Summerside, P.E.I., as much as she is going to a reunion of familiar curling foes and friends.
The Brandonite, along with her Brandon Curling Club team of third Gwen Wooley, second Lori Manning and lead Joan Robertson, knows a lot of the players who will be competing to become the 2013 Canadian senior women’s curling champion and she can’t wait to reconnect with them.
"It’s kind of exciting to go back and play some of the girls you’ve met over the years at a different level," Fowler said at Tuesday night’s sendoff for her team at the Brandon Curling Club. "It’s far more relaxing, and yet it is still competitive. You sit with the teams after and have a drink — and the winners always buys. It’s just so different from the Scotties, but it’s a lot of fun."
Among the players Fowler is familiar with are Deb Santos and Jackie Rae Greening from Alberta, Cathy Inglis of Saskatchewan, Laura Phillips from Newfoundland, New Brunswick’s Heidi Hanlon and Colleen Pinkney’s Nova Scotia team that won the title the last time Fowler made it to senior nationals in 2009.
Not only are those players friends of Fowler’s, they’re also very good curlers, which means her team is in for some tough competition when the round robin starts on Saturday. Still, Fowler, who finished third in 2009 after posting a 9-2 record in the round robin, feels her team is well-prepared for the competition and she hopes they can make the playoffs.
"We’re focused and we have a good team, we know that, but on any given day anybody can beat anybody," said Fowler, who has also appeared at four Scotties Tournament of Hearts and one mixed national championship. "Even in provincials this year, yes we were a good team, but a lot of teams rise to the occasion for Manitoba and our team in particular in provincials. They took us right to the wire several times. We had some great competition and we’re used to that, so I think we’ll be mentally tough and ready to go."
While the foursome and their coach Brian Moffatt are making the trip to Summerside, they will be without fifth Jill Hazelwood. The Canadian Curling Association doesn’t allow teams to bring a fifth and they can bring a coach only if they pay for the coach’s flights and accommodations.
The lack of a fifth really bothers Fowler, considering how playing two games a day affects their bodies and since Hazelwood played so much during the season while Wooley was injured and while Robertson sat out the team’s Curlettes league games.
"This is where I feel you need to have a fifth come with you because the seniors, we have lots of aches and pains and god knows when somebody can go down," Fowler said. "However, it’s not allowed and they have a spare pool down there and it’s a little scary to watch, I’ll tell you that because it’s just not what we’re used to. It would have meant a lot for Jill to come because she’s been pretty darn good to stick by us like she has. She was there when we needed her and we were pretty fortunate."
Despite appearing at six previous national curling events, and reaching the 1993 Scotties final in Brandon, a Canadian title has always eluded Fowler.
While she’s focused on posting a winning record and enjoying herself in Summerside, there’s nothing Fowler would like more than to earn the right to wear the Maple Leaf on her back at the 2014 world senior women’s curling championship.
"It would be a dream come true," she said. "Joan said it’s a dream to represent your province, which is a dream for everyone. However, to win a national would be unbelievable."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 14, 2013