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Krista McCarville works to maintain balance while chasing her Olympic dream

"When I'm curling, it's all I think about. When I'm a mom, that's all I think about is being a mom and when I'm teaching, all I think about is being a teacher," McCarville said of her busy schedule that includes family, work and curling.

Northern Ontario team juggles family, work and curling

Team McCarville skip Krista McCarville makes a shot during a draw against Team Englot on Saturday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

OTTAWA —  Just try to keep up with northern Ontario curler Krista McCarville.

She wakes up before her two kids – five and eight years old – hits the gym, gets everyone ready for the day, goes to school, and then teaches a Grade Five class all day. 

Then she goes from class to the curling rink for team practice. After that, she heads back home to resume her role as a mom.

"When I'm curling, it's all I think about. When I'm a mom, that's all I think about is being a mom and when I'm teaching, all I think about is being a teacher," McCarville said.

It's a balancing act that works for McCarville, but in a sport that has become a full-time job for most of the top curling teams in Canada, she admits it can be a difficult juggling act at times. And it's even more difficult to stay on top of her game.

"I need to make sure I'm getting enough sleep because as soon as I'm not I start getting sick and rundown," McCarville said.

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ont., McCarville has been curling for 25 out of the 35 years of her life. She loves curling. But she loves her family and job just as much and doesn't want to sacrifice time spent with them for time spent on the ice.

McCarville and her team of Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala and Sarah Potts have made the decision to play in big bonspiels when they can but they're not going to spend half of their year on the road chasing the curling dream.

However, they're one of nine women's teams in Ottawa this week chasing the Olympic curling dream. The Roar of the Rings is now into the third day. McCarville's team is 1-1 after their first two games. The winning team earns the right to represent Canada at the Olympics.

Preparing like never before

The thing about Team McCarville is that because they don't play as often as most of the teams, they often stumble out of the gate at big events but usually finish strong.

To ensure they didn't start slow in Ottawa, the team made curling their sole focus over the last few weeks leading up to the biggest curling event in Canada every four years.

"I feel like this whole year we've done everything we can for curling," McCarville said. "I cannot say that I could have practiced more or have done more this year." 

McCarville says the team has placed a lot of importance on both the physical and mental aspects of their game. They've been eating healthier, training harder, and feel like they can make a run in Ottawa.

"I wouldn't dedicate this time and all this effort if I didn't think we had it in us."

McCarville says each member of the team seems to play their best curling when their backs are against the wall and when the games seem to matter most.

"I feel like here our backs are against the wall every single game. You do not want to lose any of them because then you're not making playoffs."

Long distance relationship

To complicate this balancing act, team third Kendra Lilly lives 12 hours away from the team in Sudbury. She practices alone at the rink there, while the rest of the team practices together in Thunder Bay.

"I curl in league games three times a week and make sure I'm keeping up in my regular schedule," Lilly said. "We can't really get together between bonspiels unless I fly there every weekend."

Lilly says people ask her all the time why they don't play more. She laughs it off and says it's working for them and they can still have a life and a job.

"This is what works for us. We've had success with it so we don't feel the need to change."

Lilly also says the biggest thing about this team is how much they appreciate one another and how much fun they have. 

"It's pretty amazing," she said. "Not that I didn't expect to be here but our team only got together three years ago and with our schedule, it means so much to be here with these girls."

School support

There was a time when McCarville had a hard time navigating splitting her time between curling and teaching. She's played in six Scotties, which takes her away from the school for two weeks most winters.

"In the past, I did have to worry about it and I was struggling. It was tough," she said.

But it couldn't be more different now. She has the full support of the school board. It's even going a little further this week. The school she teaches at is planning to show her game against Jennifer Jones on a big screen in the gym Thursday. McCarville says her students have also been very supportive.

"They all think it's awesome. My students are so excited to be watching on TV."

And her family?

"My kids love it. My daughter is into curling. She's in the junior program. She loves watching it. We're all very much into curling," McCarville says.

McCarville plays the hometown favourite Rachel Homan team on Monday morning. After that, they have five games left to try and make it into the playoffs.

Team McCarville is used to having to balance a lot of different things. They wouldn't mind adding an Olympics to their list.

About the Author

Devin Heroux

CBC reporter

Devin Heroux reports for CBC News and Sports. He is now based in Toronto, after working first for the CBC in Calgary and Saskatoon.

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