Posted on 25 June 2014.
The Carleton Ravens women’s curling team will trade in their Ravens red for Canadian red and white, as the members of the national championship-winning team will represent Canada at the 2015 Winter Universiade from Feb. 4-14 in Granada, Spain.
The team, consisting of skip Jamie Sinclair, third Lauren Horton, second Lynn Kreviazuk, and lead Jessica Armstrong, were given the honour of competing in the Universiade after winning the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS)/Canadian Curling Association (CCA) women’s curling championships in March 2014.
“Being competitive for the past 10 years, that’s all you ever dream of: to have that Maple Leaf on your back, to be able to represent, typically, the best country in the world for the sport of curling,” Sinclair said. “It’s an honour.”
The Winter Universiade is organized by the Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) and brings together student athletes from over 50 countries every two years for the world’s largest multi-sport event for university students, according to the FISU website.
“So few competitive curlers get the opportunity to compete at that level and play against the best teams from other countries,” said Ravens coach Graham Sinclair, who’s also Jamie’s father. “It’s just such valuable experience that they can take with them as they go on and pursue their own careers. They will be able to draw on that for years to come and it will make them better athletes in the long run.”
However, Sinclair said even though the team was always going to play in the upcoming Winter Universiade, there was a question of whether they can even get a chance to defend their national title because of a scheduling conflict.
The 2015 Ontario University Athletics (OUA)/Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) women’s curling championships were set to take place from Feb. 12-16, according to a recent season proposal.
But Sinclair said he has received confirmation from OUA and Carleton administration that the provincial championships will be pushed back by a week to Feb. 19-23.
“I owe so much to the school and to the OUA for them helping us out with this,” he said.
Sinclair said his team was initially prepared to miss out on provincials once they found out the issue after winning nationals in March, but said they are thrilled to get a chance to qualify for a CIS/CCA national title defence again at the OUA/OCAA championships.
Horton said since representing their country has always been the top priority for the team, and said they have been training hard for the opportunity.
The younger Sinclair said she and her Ravens teammates are on a regimented fitness program and are taking sport psychology training sessions during the summer.
She said they are also scheduled to compete in seven tournaments before February to prepare them for the Universiade—with the team also playing in the competitive Super League run out of the Ottawa Curling Club during the season.
Sinclair said she’s most looking forward to the experience of playing against the elite teams from other countries.
“I know that in past Universiade Games, there have been Olympic teams competing there,” she said. “It will be a great experience to play against teams of that high calibre.”
The elder Sinclair said the cost for each player to compete in Spain is approximately $5,000 and the total cost for the upcoming season as a whole is expected to be about $60,000.
He said he is not sure how much funding they will receive from the university because they are drafting a budget that will be submitted to the school this summer.
Jennifer Brenning, Carleton’s athletics director, said because curling is a competitive club at Carleton, it has different funding allocations than varsity teams.
As a result, Brenning said the school has not made a final decision on how much money to provide the team, but she said they may follow the standard “rule of thumb” for individual Ravens athletes competing in FISU Universiade events and non-CIS championships—which is $500 donated per student.
“It’s really exciting to see a Ravens team get this honour, so we’ll help them however we can for them to keep doing well for our school,” she said.
Horton said the team is in the midst of organizing a few pub nights around Ottawa in addition to other fundraising efforts to raise money for travel expenses.
She said they expect to provide much of their own costs in order to live out their dream of representing Canada.
“I think we can do it. I know it will be a lot of work to raise the money but it will all be worth it,” she said. “And I hope we come back with the gold.”