Road To The Olympic Games


'We're doing all the right things': Homan, Courtney curling while pregnant at Scotties

Ontario skip Rachel Homan and second Joanne Courtney, who are competing at the Scotties in Nova Scotia, are expecting their first babies this summer. But that hasn’t stopped the rink, which is seeking its fourth national title, from getting off to a fast start.

Skip and second expecting their first babies this summer

Ontario skip Rachel Homan has her rink off to a 4-1 start at the Scotties. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

SYDNEY, N.S. — Rachel Homan's Ontario rink has two extra members on the ice at this year's Scotties.

Both the skip and the team's second, Joanne Courtney, are playing while pregnant. Homan's due date is June 14 and Courtney's is July 11.

"You feel a bit different for sure but there are a lot of curlers who have been through this," Homan said. "We're doing all the right things right now."

So far so good for the team that represented Canada at the Olympics exactly one year ago. They've been having a sensational curling season, having won the last three consecutive grand slam events. And they're 4-1 at the national championship in Sydney, N.S., this week.

Homan is looking for her fourth championship in seven years and is embracing being an expectant mother in a few months while playing the game she loves.

Fierce sweeping prowess

"I'm just a little bit more tired than normal but I think it's expected and it's a long week," Homan said.  "But the schedule is really nice and we're recovering really well."

It's one thing to be a pregnant skip, it's another thing to be a pregnant sweeper. Courtney is known for her fierce sweeping prowess, now trying to be cognizant of just how hard she goes this week.

"Honestly it's not that far into it yet that it's super uncomfortable, so I'm just kind of making sure I'm keeping my slide and making sure I'm smart with the sweeping," Courtney said.

Courtney has left games early twice during this event, allowing alternate Cheryl Kreviazuk to come into the game. Courtney says it's been great to get Kreviazuk into the championship while saving up her energy for the playoff push.

"I'm happy to take a little bit of rest when I can. This is a marathon of a week and I want to make sure I'm at my highest energy at the end of it."

Watch | Rachel Homan's rink off to a great start

Homan's rink improved to 3-0 at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts as they beat Jill Brothers' Nova Scotia rink by a 6-3 final. 1:01

Curling pregnant at the Scotties nothing new

As Homan suggests, playing pregnant at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts is nothing new. Many players have been there, done that. And having newborn babies to tend to during the bonspiel is also a reality.

Curling Canada was forced to make changes to its breastfeeding policies at the 2016 national championship after some of the women complained about having to leave the facility to breastfeed their newly born babies.

That year, Nova Scotia second Blisse Joyce twice nursed her nine-month son in a vehicle in the parking lot. And the team's skip Jill Brothers was doing the same thing.

It's the second time at the Scotties that Brothers has a newborn baby to deal with off the ice. She had her daughter six months ago and has faced some sleepless nights in Sydney because of it.

"My mom is staying in the room with me right now and I said unless you're here with me you just have no idea how challenging this could be."

The team's third Sarah Murphy had her son William four months ago.

Defending Scotties champion Jennifer Jones is no stranger to playing pregnant. Jones had her first baby in 2012 at a time when there was a lot going on in her life. Not only was she becoming a first-time mother in the fall of 2012, but she had also undergone knee surgery. There was a lot to deal with and the Olympic trials in December of 2013 were fast approaching.

Undeterred, Jones was a woman on a mission, playing the role of super mom and curler. She would guide her team to an Olympic trials win and Olympic gold medal a year later. Her second daughter, Skyla, was born in August 2016.

One of the winningest skips of all-time admits it can be challenging at times juggling being a full-time curler and mother, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

"Your kids make every part of your life better," Jones said. "The biggest thing for me is that I want my girls to be proud of me."

Ontario second Joanne Courtney, right, pictured competing at a prior event, says she understands how to listen to her body while curling pregnant. ( Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Special Scotties for Homan's team

Homan and Courtney couldn't be more grateful to be going through this journey together. They're best friends on and off the ice and experiencing being first-time mothers together is something special for the two.

"It's the coolest thing to try and wrap your head around. It's my first baby. It's crazy. My husband and I were so thrilled. I'm having so much fun and this is just icing on the cake," Courtney said.

They'll both admit that it's been a bit of a challenge learning to adapt to their changing bodies and energy levels, but Homan and Courtney are as focused as ever in winning their fourth championship.

"You can feel changes as you go but you just learn to adapt," Homan said. "I'm just focused on the task at hand."

Those comments are echoed by Courtney.

"It's eat, sleep and curl. We've been through this before. I know how to listen to my body," she said.

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