OTTAWA — Chelsea Carey had a massive decision to make with time ticking away. Who was going to play third for her team at the Olympic trials after Amy Nixon retired after the Scotties in February?
With the trials only months away and Carey guaranteed a spot, she needed to move fast. The team of three, including second Jocelyn Peterman and Laine Peters, sat down and made a wishlist. They didn't take long to put five-time Scotties champion Cathy Overton-Clapham at the top of it.
"Basically we knew we were going to reach out to her right away. That was an easy decision," Carey said.
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Carey sent Overton-Clapham a simple text message about six months ago asking if they could talk. At first, Overton Clapham thought Carey was going to ask her to spare.
"I needed a few days to think about it. It's a big time commitment. And I had to make sure it worked with the family."
But deep down, Overton-Clapham always knew she was going to say yes and Carey was also pretty confident she would say yes.
"I figured she'd be in but we had our top three or four just in case," Carey said.
It was a yes. And they got to work.
"There was no time to build a new team. We knew she could step in and be a chameleon and be good right away," Carey said.
The newly formed team has found some curling magic this week with Cathy O (her nickname). Carey's team is undefeated in Ottawa and is on a collision course with Jennifer Jones on Wednesday afternoon. Jones is also undefeated.
Overton-Clapham won three of her five Scotties championships playing third for Jones.
And for all her winning, Overton-Clapham has also been recently named to Canada's Curling Hall of Fame.
The first order of business for Carey and her crew was building consistency and, for Carey specifically, learning how Overton-Clapham throws and calls the game.
"She's always been a really good touch player with speed and draws and that's been helpful. We've drawn better this year than ever as a team and that's a lot of her input," Carey said.
It's a mutual respect shared by Overton-Clapham.
"I knew her pretty well so there weren't any surprises coming on board. She certainly knows the game very well and she's reading the ice extremely well," Overton-Clapham said.
Carey, Peterman and Peters all practice out of the Glencoe Club in Calgary. Overton-Clapham lives and practices in Manitoba. The team then reunites for the big bonspiels and it seems to be working.
"It's been pretty crazy but we've had the most consistent season I think I've ever been a part of. We've qualified in everything we've been in. We've been in quarters and semis in every bonspiel," Carey said.
Prior to joining Carey's team, Overton-Clapham last curled competitively skipping a team out of Manitoba. She's also been considered a super spare, having played with the Swiss Olympic team led by Silvana Tirinzoni for a few events last year.
So when she thought about coming back to make a competitive run with Carey for an Olympic berth, Overton-Clapham had to put in some serious thought about coming in and playing third. With the team rolling along now, she says it's the best decision she could have ever made.
"It's been quite a six months really," Overton-Clapham said. "I wasn't playing. This was not on the radar and has been really exciting. I'm trying to take advantage of every opportunity now."
With a 4-0 record and Carey's team poised to make the playoffs at the trials, they're getting more confident with each game. But it's the way they're winning that's impressed the skip.
"We're far from having clinched anything," she said. "This has been a battle. It's been having to make clutch shots and that's as important as anything."
"If you roll through cruising and crush everyone eventually that's going to catch up with you. That's not been the case. We've had to be patient. When we've missed a shot we've learned from it."
Overton-Clapham has played in big games before but now with an Olympic berth creeping closer with every win, she's embracing the moment.
"I'm feeling really good out there. We're playing well. We're getting better every game. Chelsea has a good handle on the ice," Overton-Clapham said.
Carey feels calm and confident because of Overton-Clapham.
Overton-Clapham feels calm and confident because of Carey.
And for all the winning the veteran has done, Overton-Clapham has never been this close to realizing her Olympic dream.
"I couldn't put that into words. Winning this would be a dream come true," she said.
And Carey feels the same way.
"I don't think I've ever felt more ready. I just feel as calm as I could ever hope to be in this situation. Cathy is playing a big role in that."