Laying the foundations of curling success
By Darren Lum
Published Nov. 23, 2017
Like life, there’s never a guarantee in sport.
However, the mixed U18 curling team that plays out of the Minden Curling Club is destined to grow as at team and, more importantly, as people, working through the early challenges of forming a team of boys and girls.
The team is skipped by Evan Roitz, and includes vice Jessica Byers, second Liam Little, and lead Lena Haase. Everyone has known each other for at least four years. They get along and respect one another, seeking to be the best they can be on the ice. They believe their team has strong chemistry and a balance of personalities, including strong curling skills.
For the boys, they’ve known each other for at least six years while the girls have been friends since kindergarten. There is an honesty between them all.
Little, a curler for 10 years starting in Minden, sees an advantage to the team’s early days.
“Obviously every new team is going to start out a little wonky, not that strong, but then as you build up by the end of the season you will see how much you’ve gone through as a team and that’s a big accomplishment as a team,” he said.
Evan agrees with his second about these inherent issues related to newly formed teams.
“We’ve only been together for a month and we’re doing really well so I think it’s going to help us in the long run,” he said.
He welcomed the opportunity to join the team so he can curl more.
The team is looking forward to a strong showing at the U18 Aquarius Mixed Slam competition from Jan. 20 to 21 at the Annandale Golf and Curling Club in Ajax, as part of the Junior Slam Series.
The idea to form this mixed team came from Byers, who initiated a discussion between Little at the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School.
“Evan is a skip on the [U18 men’s] team and Lena is my lead on this team so all the positions just kind of just played well,” Byers said.
Although Roitz is from Bobcaygeon, he has curled out of Minden for six years after starting his curling in Bobcaygeon at five and has family in the area. His great-grandmother and uncle are long-time Minden residents.
She adds this isn’t her first mixed team, but she wants to have best chance to be competitive.
Byers, a curler for five years since starting at the Haliburton Curling Club like Haase, who has curled for six years, said Evan’s seriousness on the ice is a great complement to her easy-going and relaxed nature.
Byers sees a long-term benefit beyond this season in being on this team.
“As we grow older when we go to university and college we’re going to be on different teams so having this experience of navigating [through problems such as], sweeping, strategy and different people it will help,” she said.
She adds this isn’t her first mixed team ever, but she wanted the best chance at being competitive.
The team’s coach Scotty Boyd has coached all girls and all boys rinks before, but not a mixed rink.
He was happy to help when asked, particularly how easy they are to coach.
Minden rink takes second place
The U18 men’s curling team finished second and earned $1,000 at the U18 Pegasus Slam from Nov. 10 to 12 at the Orillia Curling Club, which earned them a spot at the Slam Championship in Guelph from March 29 to April 2. Half of the team includes mixed members Roitz, skip, and Little, second, with Uxbridge teens Aidan Bowers, vice, and Griffen Bowers, lead.
With files from Michelle Roitz.