STONEWALL — The third bonspiel of the season for most teams isn’t a provincial championship, but that is the case for Liza Park’s Brandon Curling Club squad.
Prior to this week’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Deloraine native and her team of Darla Hayward, Pam Robins and Kortney Teale had only played in the Westman regional playdowns and the Brandon Ladies’ Bonspiel.
It wasn’t that Park, who is appearing in her ninth provincial Scotties, wanted to take the season off, but it was more a matter of circumstance.
Shortly after forming her team for the season, Park’s life partner Tim Barron received word that he needed surgery on his back — having ruptured a disc that wouldn’t heal because of a degenerative disease. During the pre-operation consultations, the pair learned that, worst case scenario, he may not be able to drive for three months after the surgery.
Park has two children and, while her family supports her in her curling endeavours, she wanted to make sure they could play hockey this season. So, she decided to take the competitive season off to be a supportive mom.
"I just didn’t feel that I could commit to the girls like I needed to because I didn’t want to be that hockey mom that was sending my kids with everybody," said Park, who is the economic development officer for the Town of Deloraine. "I had to make a choice and Tim couldn’t be there because he was recovering from his surgery. Then I decided I was going to sit the winter out. I told the girls and obviously they understood."
As it turned out, Barron’s recovery after having metal rods put in his back to hold his vertebrae apart was not as bad as they anticipated. However, Park’s team had already committed to playing just club this season and entering playdowns with the goal of having fun and maybe getting a spot.
They won the ‘B’ event and booked their ticket to Stonewall, where they quickly fell out of contention by dropping their first four games.
Although she would have enjoyed being on the ice more, Park has enjoyed her light curling season and stands by the sacrifices she chose to make this year.
"I wish I could be a full-time curler, but … I can’t always do that," she said. "I have great support at home, but it comes down to how much I want to miss of my kids’ stuff too.
"It’s a balance in there that every mother here can attest to and you do what you can and make it work and we are four hours away from (Winnipeg) to get to bonspiels, so you have to pick and choose. That’s the story of my life and since I started curling, but I wouldn’t ever stop curling. As long as I can keep going, I will keep being there."