Two members of the Gateway Curling Club will represent Team Newfoundland at the Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.
The club, which is located at the Bruce II Sports Centre, hosted this year’s provincial tournament and it was their first time hosting the mixed doubles, which David Thomas says is a relatively new sport.
“This is our third provincial tournament we’ve hosted, the first time we’ve actually had a team (from Gateway) win for a long time,” says Thomas. “We haven’t had an adult team win in competition here. We only started competing in the provincial competitions about seven or eight years ago.”
Club members have also competed in the Traveler’s Curling Club Championship, the Tankard, the Seniors and the Masters.
“It’s a good sport. It’s fun to play. It’s very social,” says Thomas about his long-standing love of curling. “I watch it on TV all the time. I grew up not being able to play because there were no rinks or anything around.”
Thomas, who grew up in Musgravetown, joined the local curling club when he moved to Port aux Basques about a decade ago. He’s been hooked ever since, and devotes considerable time to the sport. He plays three times a week - Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday - and coaches as well.
“The Sunday league is the more competitive league. Tuesdays and Thursdays are mixed leagues, and then Wednesday nights we have junior curling and I coach that, and I coach the Little Rocks program, the younger ones, on Saturday,” says Thomas. “And I practice in between, and work in between that.”
When he’s not curling, Thomas is a doctor. It’s not exactly a relaxing career path, even in a small town.
“It’s a few hours,” he laughs.
Jenna Harvey is the veteran on Team NL. She has been curling for about 15 years, having taken up the sport when she was 12. She was drawn to it because some of her friends were playing. That first year when she joined, the club held a Junior Atlantic Tournament and they needed a host team.
“They put together girls that were of age to play and I got chosen,” recalls Harvey. “We just kept at it from there.”
In 2006, Harvey was on the juniors team when it won the Under 17 championship, which up until she won the provincial mixed doubles was the only banner hanging in the club. Now she’s been a part of both championship banners.
“I really enjoy playing the mixed, but the mixed doubles is my favourite,” says Harvey. “I really enjoy that.”
“She’s way better than I am. Her form is better. She’s a natural,” enthuses Thomas. “We’re pretty good together but she’s the more natural at it.”
Harvey says she really only plays once a week, though obviously she and Thomas are practicing a lot more lately. Currently, the club doesn’t have a mixed doubles league, but Harvey and Thomas did find plenty of local competition leading up to provincials.
They are excited to play at nationals and possibly meet, learn from and play against some of their favourite curlers. Thomas has competed previously in the Tankard, something he thoroughly enjoyed because of the high level of competition, so he anticipates a particularly stiff matchup at nationals.
“We have realistic expectations,” says Thomas. “Whoever we play against, we’d love to give them as reasonable game. We’d like to win a game or two, though.”
“I just want to take it for all that it is and just meet all the players that I grew up watching, idolizing when I was young,” says Harvey. “Getting a chance to play against them is a huge deal, so just to take it all in and enjoy it. If we win, that’s wonderful. If we don’t, I’ll be just as happy.”
The national tournament will be held in Fredericton, N.B. beginning on Tuesday, March 19. Scores will be available online at www.curling.ca.