Neither injury nor sickness could keep the Earl Marriott Mariners’ senior girls curling team from adding another championship banner to the school’s collection last week – the school’s first ever in the sport.
The Mariners’ rink – skip Kiana Holland, third Hailey Dubois, second Alyssa Lait, lead Gemma Cooper-Smith, alternate Nicole Hague and coach Ed Holland – placed first at BC High School Curling Championships in New Westminster, edging Port Coquitlam’s Riverside Secondary for top honours.
And they did it by battling through their fair share of adversity, too. On the first day of the three-day competition, Hague came down with strep throat and was sent home to recover, and Cooper-Smith, who is only in Grade 8, sprained her thumb during the tournament, as well.
“The injuries were tough… they really went above and beyond,” said team manager Eleanor MacDonald.
The eight-team tournament was a round-robin format, and the team with the best record at the end is declared champion. However, both EMS and Riverside finished the tournament with 6-1 win-loss records – the Mariners’ only loss was to the Port Coquitlam-based rink – which set the stage for a winner-take-all gold-medal showdown.
Making matters more stressful for the South Surrey squad, MacDonald said, was that their final round-robin game finished before Riverside’s, meaning they had to sit and wait to find out if they’d tie, or come in second.
But their nerves were calm when they finally did hit the ice, beating Riverside 8-6.
Earl Marriott has only had a curling program for three years, MacDonald said, and the fourth-place finish at provincials in Smithers last year as “a big accomplishment” for the girls team.
And while this year they had hoped to improve upon that mark, MacDonald admitted that a provincial title wasn’t always top of mind. And that attitude may have, in fact, helped them in the pressure-filled final.
“I would say that they probably didn’t anticipating winning (before the tournament),” she said.
“But I think that relaxed attitude made a difference.”
The Mariners weren’t the only South Surrey curling team to find their way onto a provincial podium last weekend, either.
In the eight-team senior boys draw, Elgin Park Secondary placed second.
The Orcas – skip Branden Reimer, third David Loken, second Andrew Loken, lead Jordan Reimer, alternate Van Zhu and coach Jeff Kwan – entered the tournament as the Fraser Valley champions, having won the regional playdowns at Peace Arch Curling Club in January.
Both the EMS girls and Elgin boys often train together at Peace Arch Curling Centre, MacDonald noted.