BY ANDREW SMITH
LISTOWEL – Few curlers are ever talented enough to reach the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, but for Listowel curler Katie Cottrill, it’s the realization of a dream she’s had since she was 10 years old.
“It’s been my dream since I was really little,” Cottrill said. “I used to watch it on TV and knew that I wanted to be there.”
Cottrill earned the chance to compete in the national women’s curling championship Feb. 1-9 as part of the Allison Flaxey rink, which won the provincial championship in Sault Ste. Marie. Cottrill said she was interested in curling at a young age, attending the club with parents Terry and Shannon Pringle.
“I used to go to the curling club and watch them play, so naturally I wanted to try it,” she said. “I really liked it and got into it competitively when I was 12.”
Cottrill said the long road to the Scotties began two seasons ago when skip Flaxey began to put the team together. Flaxey and Cottrill had met each other on the ice previously, and were well-suited to be teamed up.
“We were kind of looking for a new team and had curled against each other a few times,” Cottrill said. “We all just had similar goals and decided to give it a try.”
The team was rounded out with second Lynn Kreviazuk and lead Morgan Court, and the team has stuck together ever since. Cottrill said she feels fortunate to be heading to the Scotties, especially considering how competitive the province is.
“Curling is so tough in the province of Ontario; there are so many good curlers and so many good teams,” she said. “In the back of your mind you wonder if you ever will get there.”
The support from the community has been overwhelming since the win at the provincial championships, Cottrill said.
“It’s been amazing, I’ve had a lot of phone calls and a lot of emails,” Cottrill said. “It’s really nice to have that support and feel like you’re making a difference for the club.”
That community support continued on Sunday, Jan. 26, when the Listowel Curling Club hosted a send-off party for the team before heading to the Scotties in Montreal. The celebration included presentations from Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece and North Perth Mayor Julie Behrns, who expressed their pride at the team representing Ontario.
“You’re not just representing the Listowel rink, not just North Perth, but our great province as well,” Behrns said. “We couldn’t be prouder of you.”
Flaxey thanked the community on behalf of the team, saying that the last few weeks have been a bit of a “crazy ride.”
“The fact you all came out to be a part of it and show us your support before we head to Montreal means everything to us,” Flaxey said. “We hope to make everyone proud and bring home a championship.”
Cottrill said she’s not sure what to expect from the Scotties, but knows that Rachel Homan of Team Canada is the favourite heading into the tournament as the defending champions.
“They’re always a really tough team to beat, and I expect them to be on top of their game,” she said. “If we play the way we’ve been playing this year we should be able to do well there.”