Jones's rink boots 3rd Overton-Clapham
Shocked curler 'blindsided' by 'good friend' after 6 years together
After a disappointing season, Jennifer Jones has decided to make a personnel change.
The Winnipeg skip dumped veteran third Cathy Overton-Clapham in favour of up-and-comer Kaitlyn Lawes this week, breaking up one of the most successful rinks in Canadian women's curling.
"It was a situation where we were looking towards the future," Jones said Friday in a phone interview. "We felt that we needed to shake things up."
Jones, third Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn Askin have been at the top in recent years, with four national championships and a world title in 2008.
But the quartet had an up-and-down season, missing out on an Olympic berth and settling for bronze at the most recent world championship in Swift Current, Sask.
For Overton-Clapham, the news came as a complete shock.
"I was totally blindsided," Overton-Clapham said Friday in a telephone interview. "I had no idea."
Overton-Clapham, 40, says Officer suggested the team get together for a meeting after they returned to Winnipeg following last week's Grey Power Players' Championship. Overton-Clapham didn't know what to expect, but she had a bad vibe almost immediately.
"No one made eye contact," she said. "So I knew something was up."
According to Overton-Clapham, Jones said during the meeting that the team was moving forward without her.
Officer said the team decided at the end of the season that a change had to be made.
"We had been thinking about things for a while," said Officer. "This wasn't an easy decision to make. We just did what we thought was best going forward."
Lawes, 21, is a two-time Canadian junior champion, and has a second- and third-place showing at the world junior championship.
The Winnipeg native, who had been playing in Edmonton with Kathy King, said she is looking forward to joining the Jones crew.
"Playing with a great championship team, right here in my home province of Manitoba, is a dream come true for me," Lawes said in a statement. "I've had the opportunity to learn so much from Team King over the past year — and now, as they take a step back from the game, I'm honoured to have the opportunity to join the best team in Canada.
"This is what I've been working toward ever since I threw my first rock."
Jones believes Lawes will rejuvenate the team.
"Kaitlyn's such a young, rising star," said Jones. "We're excited that she's going to be part of the team, and obviously she's younger than us, which I think is something we need going forward."
Overton-Clapham, who also won a national title in 1995 under skip Connie Laliberte, wasn't buying the assertion that the team needed more pep. "I've got a million emails from competitors," she said. "I'm a pretty excitable, pretty bubbly person. If that's the case, that's what they see. I don't know, maybe I wasn't putting my part in."
Overton-Clapham paused repeatedly to compose herself during Friday's interview, saying she felt betrayed by Jones, with whom she shared a strong bond.
"We were very good friends," said Overton-Clapham. "I talk to Jen two, three times a day. We room together, so I thought there was a great relationship.
"I saw beyond what she saw, and that's really unfortunate. There was never any tension, at least that I saw. I'm just extremely hurt."
Overton-Clapham says she has plenty to lose.
"It's the end of April," she said. "Teams are already made [for next season]. It's taking away a chance for me to represent Canada [at upcoming events], and there are financial issues I'm losing out on as well.
"There's never a right time for this sort of thing, but out of respect, I would have expected more. I've played with them a long time. It's hurtful, really."
Jones said the decision was gut-wrenching.
"Cathy's a very dear friend," said Jones. "I care about her deeply.
"These types of decisions are always very difficult. I don't think you can describe [the feeling]. But we're looking to the future … to four years from now."