'I'll never forget it': Budding curlers paired with pros at Scotties
The Scotties Tournament of Hearts is being held this week in Sydney, N.S.
Some young curlers from Cape Breton got the experience of a lifetime thanks to a program that pairs them with pros to get a closer look at the sport.
The Future Stars program allows the young curlers to meet players at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and share practice ice with the best in the game. The national women's tournament is being held in Sydney this week.
Kate Steele of Port Hawkesbury has been curling for five years and was teamed up with Jennifer Jones of Team Canada on Sunday.
"Meeting the team and knowing they're just like us, it was so cool," said the Grade 9 student. "I'll always remember how I felt because I felt so happy, lucky and thankful."
Port Hawkesbury's Sarah Organ was paired up with Team Quebec and stood with them on centre ice during the pre-game ceremony, which left her a little starstruck.
"Standing next to the team was really awesome and waving to fans, it was really cool," said the Grade 9 student.
Ronnie Organ is Sarah's dad and the coach for the junior curling club.
"Hopefully, it gives them a little bit of interest in knowing that these ladies that are out here today in the Scotties were once little girls like them in a local curling club," he said. "So, the opportunity is there. They certainly have the ability if they want to put the work and time into it."
Braydon Dolan is from Sydney. The Grade 6 student started curling two years ago and he loves the game.
"It's all about strategy, timing and balance," said Dolan, who was also paired with Team Quebec.
What the young curlers learned
Along with the excitement, the budding curlers are learning things they can apply to their games.
"To see what shots ... they do and would they risk doing shots that might help them, but at the same time, might help the other team," he said.
Steele said she paid close attention to how the pros slid.
"I'm going to practice on my sliding and getting down more low when I slide," she said.
'A great opportunity'
Sarah Organ said she learned about the importance of always communicating with your teammates. The young curlers loved every moment of the experience.
"It was a great opportunity and I'll never forget it," said Steele.