Local curlers to compete at nationals
Jon Thurston of Dunsford and Chrissy Molnar of Bobcaygeon, along with their teammates Ken Gregory and Collindra Joseph, will head off to compete in the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships in Ottawa March 24-31
Jon Thurston of Dunsford and Chrissy Molnar of Bobcaygeon had never curled before this year, let alone in wheelchairs, but after perseverance - both from them and their coach Carl Rennick - they will find themselves competing for Ontario at the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships in Ottawa this weekend.
"Obviously we all work very hard at practicing and we just want to do our best," says Mr. Thurston.
"I think we can compete well with the team we have."
Mr. Rennick literally found both local players - approaching Ms Molnar at the Bobcaygeon Fair and Mr. Thurston at the Lindsay Recreational Complex - and asked them if they would want to join a wheelchair curling team out of Bradford, which includes existing members Ken Gregory, who is the team's skip, and Collindra Joseph, from Ottawa, who have been playing together for seven years.
Mr. Thurston also plays with the senior men's league in Peterborough, and adds that, when it comes to curling, he likes the fact that it doesn't matter who is throwing the stone.
"There's a bit of a disadvantage [because] we don't have a sweeper, but we just adjust and we can compete with anybody, so it's great. And a very social sport," Mr. Thurston adds.
Ms Molnar originally couldn't even curl at her home town curling club because it was not accessible, but once the ice maker in Bobcaygeon was made aware of issue, he created a ramp to the back door, giving her direct access to the ice.
Since the team is so spread apart, they have to make an effort to practice together every chance they get, which includes practices once a week in Peterborough with Mr. Thurston, Ms Molnar and Mr Gregory when he can make it, as well as the local curlers getting together as often as they can at in Bobcaygeon.
In fact, the first time the team played together - and Ms Molnar's first official game ever - was at an international Cathy Kerr bonspiel in Ottawa in early December, where they placed fourth out of 16 teams.
After a few precious practices together as a whole team, they won the provincial championships in Gananoque in late January.
"For their first year curling at all, they've just done so well and they work really hard," notes Mr. Rennick.
Both curlers say the relatively new team works very well together.
"Everyone seems to be really positive, too," says Ms Molnar.
"There's not a lot of fighting on the ice, even when we're down, everyone's really helping towards each other."
And given that Mr. Gregory has made it to nationals three times, and Ms Joseph has been once before, they bring a valuable measure of experience to the team, which will help the more novice curlers, particularly with the mental aspect of the game, says Mr. Rennick.
"It's really easy to get wrapped up in the heat of the moment and you really need to know how to focus on the task at hand."
But, overall, Mr. Rennick says all four players have what it takes to excel in the sport.
The Canadian Wheelchair National Championships begin March 24, and consist of nine, round-robin matches leading into playoff games, with the final set to take place March 31.
"I just want to thank our whole team and all the help we've had, I mean we have an abundant source of coaches it seems and everybody has been willing to help us, it's been great," says Mr. Thurston, referring to many coaches including Dave Farnell and Bruce Gors who have helped out when Mr. Rennick has been unavailable.
Although, to the best of their knowledge, none of the games will be televised, fans can check on scores on the Canadian Curling Association website.
Both curlers agree that they are looking forward to putting into practice all their hard work in a competitive setting, not to mention getting to meet great people from across the country.
"This is just going to be a great experience," says Mr. Thurston.
"We get to meet a lot of great people and play some really good competitive teams that will make us play hard and do our best."