Road To The Olympic Games

Curling

The curling romance that changed 2 lives forever

Team Gushue third Mark Nichols first met his wife, Colette, at the 2004 Brier in Saskatoon. Since then, the happy couple are raising two sons and have just completed a dream season.

Mark and Colette Nichols met in Saskatoon at the 2004 Brier

Mark Nichols, right, and Colette met at the 2004 Brier in Saskatoon and soon became a couple. (Sara Rostoski)

Team Gushue third Mark Nichols is on the road again chasing his curling dream, less than a week after the birth of his second son, Emmett. 

Nichols is with the team in Calgary this week competing in the last event of the year.

It wasn't Nichols's idea to head out for the Champions Cup. He was more than happy to stay home and help with the newborn baby duties.

The arrival of baby Emmett completed the “best three months” of Colette Nichols’ life. (Mark Nichols)

But like so many times during their marriage, his wife, Colette, who is in St. John's with their two kids now, said he had to go.

"It was her idea for me to be in Calgary," said Nichols. "She told me I can't miss the last event. She said it's been such an amazing year, I have to finish it off."

Within the span of a few months, the Nichols family has grown by a Brier Tankard, world championship title and a baby boy.

"It's the best three months in my life," Colette said. "There have been so many highs and lows through this all."

Saskatoon start

To say the two have been connected through curling is an understatement. Mark and Colette met in Saskatoon at the 2004 Brier. It was only the second appearance for Mark, playing third alongside Brad Gushue, Jamie Korab and Mark Ward.

Colette, who grew up in Outlook, Sask., attended the Brier that year with her family, who are all big curling fans.

"My Auntie Debbie said, have you guys taken a look at these boys from Newfoundland and Labrador?" Colette recalled. "We were like, 'No, we haven't, Auntie. Not interested.'"

Colette's cousin Shari Lemon, second from right, had a hand in getting the two lovebirds together. (Colette Nichols)

As it turns out, the interest grew. Colette, her aunt and cousin were in the Brier Patch after one of the draws. Her cousin Shari wanted to get a picture with Korab, which turned out to be a group shot.

"It was her aunt and cousin that approached me looking for a jersey," Mark Nichols said. "They were wondering why my jersey wasn't up for auction."

Mark and Colette hit it off immediately.

"He asked for my number and I gave him my email address," Colette laughed. "I'm a small-town Saskatchewan girl. I wasn't about to give him my number."

Mark emailed Colette before he got on his flight home after the event. A few days later, Colette gave him her number. The two have been together ever since.

"I have one of his Brier shirts from that first Brier," Colette said. "He found me in the stands and gave me one of his shirts."

Making it work

It was during the 2005 Brier that Mark and Colette knew they needed to start making a plan to be together. Mark was busy with his curling career, and Colette was busy finishing up school to become a dental assistant.

Despite their hectic lives, Mark had flown to Saskatchewan a few times to get to know Colette's family. Colette travelled to Edmonton for the entire Brier to spend more time with Mark.

"We were mini-golfing in West Ed [West Edmonton Mall] and he said, 'Do you think we could make this work?'" Colette said.

Months later she had moved across the country and has been in St. John's ever since.

Both acknowledge having to make sacrifices and finding ways to make their relationship work.

"It's no different than someone who might work shift work," Mark said. "I think she's the best mother in the world."

Colette gets emotional when she talks about the journey the two have been on over the years.

"The day I met Mark, my life changed forever," Colette said. "When he says I'm the best mother, I counter that with him being the best dad and husband."

Soon after first son Beckett was born, Nichols returned to Team Gushue. (Anil Mungal)

Getting back to Team Gushue

In 2011, Mark retired from curling. It was that same year the two got married on a cruise. But the break from the game was only brief. After years of being a part of the Gushue rink, Colette and Mark packed their bags for Manitoba and Mark joined Jeff Stoughton's rink.

After two full seasons away from the team he had grown up playing with, away from the city Colette and Mark had called home from the beginning, Colette said it was time to move back home.

Nichols calls his wife, Colette, after winning the world curling title with Team Gushue in Edmonton. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

"I told Mark I wanted to have our son in St. John's. And I told him to call Brad," said Colette. "He called Brad the next morning and said I'm coming home and I want to be back on the team."

Not long after that, their first son, Beckett, was born in St. John's and Mark was back with Gushue, forming the team that just won the Brier and world titles.

Riding the highs and lows together

The two have had to endure a lot together over the years. From heart-breaking defeats, to the thrill of victory, to never knowing if they would be able to have children, Colette and Mark have experienced some of the great moments of their lives together.

They speak candidly about how difficult it's been to have a child.

Colette and Mark call both of their boys blessings, considering all they've been through to bring Beckett and Emmett into the world.

"There were moments we didn't know we would be able to have this life," said Mark. "For us to have two healthy beautiful boys is amazing"

There isn't much more they could ask for in life, but Colette says some goals remain for this year.

"Maybe an Olympic trials win. A trip to the Olympics. Just one more thing to cap off this memorable year."

About the Author

Devin Heroux

CBC reporter

Devin Heroux reports for CBC News and Sports. He is now based in Toronto, after working first for the CBC in Calgary and Saskatoon.

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