Steve Irwin, here delivering a shot, is moving up to skip stones. (FILE PHOTO)
It’s official: Steve Irwin is moving up to skip the Brandon Curling Club team that used to have Terry McNamee call the game and throw last rocks.
McNamee, who skipped the squad to a top-six finish in each of the last three Safeway Championships, opted to leave the team because he didn’t want to travel on the bonspiel circuit. That left Irwin, second Travis Taylor and lead Travis Saban looking for a fourth player.
They have picked up Joey Witherspoon as their new third, in what Irwin said was a pretty easy decision.
"Joey’s from Carberry and I like playing with Carberry guys," said Irwin, who’s also a Carberry native. "He’s won at every age group he’s played in so far — at U16, U18 and juniors — and he and I used to play in the men’s club when he was 12 years old. I know he’s a really good thrower and thought he would be a good fit for the team."
Witherspoon comes with experience as a skip and third, which he played in 2010 when he won a provincial junior men’s curling championship with Alex Forrest. However, he lives in Winnipeg while the other three members of the team reside in the Wheat City.
Irwin, who plans to have the team play in the Manitoba Curling Tour and a few World Curling Tour events in Manitoba next season, hasn’t talked to Witherspoon about how they will practice and prepare to earn a spot at next year’s Safeway Championship, but he’s not too worried about it.
"You look at all the big teams and they do it and none of them live close together," he said. "We’ll try to make it work."
Although Witherspoon will be with the team for bonspiels on weekends, he won’t play with them in the Brandon Sun Westman Super League of Curling. Instead, Witherspoon will play in a competitive league at the Pembina Curling Club.
Meanwhile, Irwin, Taylor and Saban will team up with McNamee in the Westman Super League as they try to win their fourth straight title. And Irwin will step back to play third on that team, like he has done for the last few years with McNamee.
"It will be the same as last year," he said. "Nothing will change for that. You don’t want him (McNamee) sweeping."
WCT: The World Curling Tour’s season resumes today with the Pomeroy Inn and Suites Prairie Showdown in Grande Prairie, Alta. Brandonite Rob Fowler and his new team that includes Brendan Taylor will be in the field along with former Brandonites Mike McEwen, William Lyburn and Nolan Thiessen, who plays lead for Kevin Koe. The 16-team event wraps up on Sunday.
JUNIORS: Minnedosa’s Jennifer Curle and Carberry’s Braden Calvert are both skipping their new teams at a junior berth bonspiel in Selkirk from Friday through Sunday.
DOMINIONS: The Dominion Club Westman regional playdowns will be held at Rivers from Friday through Sunday. Ten clubs are playing for Westman’s lone men’s berth at provincials, while seven teams are in the women’s event.
EXTRA ENDS: The Brandon Curling Club will hold a sendoff for Joyce McDougall’s provincial champion masters women’s curling team today at 8 p.m. They will go to nationals in Thunder Bay, Ont., from April 8-14 ... Saturday is Championship Day at both the Riverview and Brandon curling clubs, with league finals being played all day. Riverview’s event will also honour Walter and Jean Pickett, who are retiring after spending numerous years as the club’s manager and canteen operators … Neepawa’s spring mixed bonspiel will run from March 22-24. Cost is $100. Contact Wanda Rainka at 204-476-3545 … The Souris Survivor Bonspiel runs from March 27-31. Contact Karen at 204-483-3534 or call Val at 204-483-2564 … Killarney’s last chance open bonspiel runs from March 29-31. Contact Pierre St. Godard at 204-523-7565 or 204-523-6052.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 14, 2013