Team Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have a little home ice advantage at the Scotties in Thunder Bay, Ont.
Parents, familiar faces, and local delicacies just some of the ways Karlee Everist and Jenna Enge feel at home
Team Northern Ontario may have home ice advantage at the Fort William Gardens at the 2022 Scotties in Thunder Bay, Ont., but two other teams have players who also feel at home.
Team Nova Scotia's Karlee Everist, and Team Saskatchewan's Jenna Enge, who both play second on their respective teams, hail from northwestern Ontario.
Everist, who may be better known as Karlee Jones in Thunder Bay's curling circles, grew up in the city. Enge is from Fort Frances, but attended post-secondary school in Thunder Bay.
"Coming home, and just seeing so many familiar faces, so many people that are around the Gardens this week are the people that I grew up curling with," said Everist, who said she grew up curling at both the Port Arthur and Fort William clubs.
"It's been really good to still see people, feel lots of love, and it's been really cool that driving from the hotel down the streets that you're familiar with to go curl."
Everist said she was able to see her parents from a distance, and is sticking around for a few days after curling is finished to visit with family.
Playing in the Fort William Gardens reminds Everist of the event she attended 26 years ago, when she was only five, and hoped that while only some volunteers and select junior curlers will be allowed in the stands this weekend, that the event still serves as inspiration.
"I think about my experience as watching the Scotties at the Gardens in '96 and just growing up, had a great program at the Port Arthur Curling Club. These children need to be inspired, and what better way for them to watch the Scotties than in their hometown, right?" she said.
For Enge, she said felt at home as soon as she walked into the hotel and got a persian, the well-known Thunder Bay pastry.
"I feel so comfortable being back home. It's just, it's awesome. My parents are here in the background, sending us home cooked meals and stuff. So, it just makes it feel like I'm back at home."
Enge, Everist and Sarah Potts, who plays on Team Northern Ontario, all played juniors together.
"It's kind of amazing that it happened this year in Thunder Bay, where it all started, where we started playing together, so it was kind of like the stars aligned, because I didn't really expect it to happen all at once."
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Enge said there has been lots of support from the curling community in Thunder Bay, and while players are in a bubble, meaning they only interact with other participants, she said curlers can feel the support of the city.
The final three days of the event will see a limited number of fans in the stands, who will be able to cheer on the hometown team, and Everist's Nova Scotia squad.
Team Northern Ontario (5-3) has advanced to the playoffs with a third-place finish in Pool A. Team Nova Scotia (5-2) enters its final round robin draw against Team Quebec (2-5) Thursday evening, with a win assuring their place in the playoff round.