Sioux Lookout hosts, participates in under-18 curling regionals
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Sioux Lookout Golf and Curling Club (SLGCC) hosted this year’s Xplornet under-18 Regionals for regions one and two, through the Northern Ontario Curling Association, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.
Two boy’s teams competed for one spot at Provincials while four girl’s teams competed for two spots at Provincials, which will be taking place in Sault Ste. Marie from March 4-8.
Team Goriak represented Sioux Lookout on the girl’s side. Their roster included Hailey Goriak (Skip), Shantal Agustin (Vice), Tya Dell (Second), Sofia Espana (Lead), and Clara Hornig (Fifth).
During the opening ceremonies, the SLGCC and the Municipality of Sioux Lookout welcomed all the teams, who travelled from Fort Frances, Port Arthur, and Kakabeka Falls, for the tournament.
“On behalf of our members, staff, and the board of directors of the Sioux Lookout Golf and Curling Club, we’d like to welcome all the participants, coaches, and the family members who came here. The level of play has been excellent so far, and I’m sure it will continue throughout the rest of the weekend. Good luck the rest of the way, and good curling,” said Dave Kulchyski, SLGCC President.
“Welcome to Sioux Lookout. I’d like to congratulate the organizing committee and all the volunteers for a great job. On behalf of Sioux Lookout, thank you very much and welcome to the hub of the north. Good luck to the winners as you move on, and keep curling for those who don’t,” said Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance.
Team Goriak finished the tournament in third place, just missing out on the two Provincials spots. Team Malette from Port Arthur and Team Payne from Fort Frances moved on from the girl’s side, and Team Burgess from Kakabeka Falls earned the lone boy’s spot at Provincials.
Despite the results, Team Goriak said they enjoyed the opportunity to compete in front of their hometown crowd.
“It was really nice to have the home advantage. We didn’t have to worry about travelling, and then having all your friends and family come watch was really nice and supportive, especially when you look up and everyone is cheering you on,” said Hailey Goriak.
“I’m so glad that I’m able to play on this team. It was so fun, and it was my first time in a tournament like this. We didn’t make it (to Provincials) but it was very fun, and I thought we played well overall,” said Clara Hornig.
“It was really nice to see so many faces watching us. It was nice not to have to travel and to be able to stay here,” she added.
“It was amazing. We’ve been a team for three years and having that many opportunities to go somewhere and have people believe in us, like sponsorships on our jackets, it was just so nice to know that my town supports me and the other girls that play,” said Tya Dell.
For some of the girl’s, this year was their last year of eligibility for the under-18 tournaments. The team has been together for the past three years, where they’ve spent many hours practicing and competing locally together to grow their skills.
“We have two practices a week and they curl in the lady’s league as well, so they have a game every week,” said Adele Brunton, who’s coached the team for the past three years.
Growing as a team, making new friends, and competing against good competition are among the team’s highlights from the past three years.
“Our girls have been together for the past three years. It’s been really nice to have the same group of girls and good team dynamics because that really makes the team work well together. Overall, it’s been a really good time. I’ve gained a lot of experience curling against a lot of good people, and it’s got us to make more friends as well. There’s definitely a lot of curlers from other towns and cities that I’ve become friends with along the way,” said Goriak.
“It’s great learning experience. I get to learn about the sport that I have so much passion for, I get to reconnect with old friends, make new friends, and it’s just overall a great experience,” said Dell.
German Rotary exchange student Clara Hornig was the team’s newest edition this year. She had never curled before, but her quick learning and natural skills shocked her teammates and coaches.
“She’s done really well. She’s caught on very quickly, she’s picked up the game, and she’s doing quite well. Considering she’s never curled before, it’s quite amazing,” said Brunton.
“She came out the first couple of times and was a natural. It was kind of mind-blowing… It was just really good to see that she wanted to be part of it and she wanted to learn,” said Goriak.
“It was really fun. I knew curling from seeing it on TV a couple times, but it’s not big in Germany. I wasn’t planning on playing curling here but then my friends said they’re curling and I should try it. I tried it and it’s very fun. I never thought it would be so much fun… I’m just so glad that I got to know the sport and my teammates,” said Hornig.
Some of the girls on Team Goriak said they want to try and stay involved in curling while they finish high school and think of their post-secondary futures.
“I’ll definitely try to keep up with it as much as I can… I’d really like to try and keep up with it,” said Goriak.
“A lot of the schools I want to apply to next year have a curling team in their school or a curling club near, so it’s definitely something I want to keep going with, build my skills, and hopefully further my experience in the sport,” said Dell.