When the 2014 Tim Hortons Junior Curling Championship comes to Chilliwack later this week, there will be one local in the field.
Ali Renwick curls for Team Hawes. Skipped by Anmore native Dezaray Hawes and representing the Royal City Curling Club, the team also includes Gabrielle Plonka (Vancouver) and Casey Freeman (Mission).
They aren’t favourites to win when the event starts Dec. 26, but they’re more than capable of making a darkhorse run.
“We’ll take it one game at a time and try to win as many round-robin games as we can,” Renwick said. “We’ll do whatever we can to get to the final, which will be televised on CTV Sportsnet.”
Hawes, the team’s skip, is interesting.
She’s in Grade 11 and just 16 years old.
“She used to play lead, but our coach realized she had a skip’s personality,” Renwick said. “A lot of people think that’s weird because she’s four years younger than all of us. But she’s very calm and smart. She’s very mature for her age and I kind of forget about that age difference.”
Renwick was listed as the second when the Tim Hortons field was revealed.
She’s since been moved to third, which sounds like a subtle change to the curling illiterate.
“It’s actually huge because I’m throwing later on in the ends now, and my shots are a little more crucial if I have to clean something up,” Renwick explained. “And I call the shots for Dezaray, and call the lines after the shot leaves her hand.”
Plonka is now the second. Freeman curls lead.
“Gabby is the same age as me and we were good friends instantly,” Renwick said. “And I’ve known Casey for a long time too. It’s been really cool having them on the same team as me.”
They go out after practices, have lunch and laugh.
But really, this is serious, serious business.
After falling short in qualifying for this event last year, meetings were held and the team was taken back to square one.
“We lost three finals in a row (A, B and C) and the feeling was just awful,” Renwick recalled. “We really should have beaten the last team we lost to. We’ve faced them multiple times this year and beaten them, but we had trouble defending leads last year.”
Renwick believes that problem has been solved. At the Golden Ears Womens’ Cashspiel earlier this season they locked down a late lead, banishing that mental block.
If a similar situation arrises, Renwick’s confident they can get it done. But she also knows the competition at this event will be capital-T tough. Corryn Brown’s Kamloops rink is the top dog, coming in as the defending Canadian champs.
“It will be a low-scoring game where we’ll wait for a miss and attack when we can,” Renwick said. “Get the lead and hopefully hold it.”