Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 19, 2011 - Grudge match at the Scotties

Well, it's no secret that I have been a big fan of Canadian curling since I first took an interest in the sport back in 1990. It's also no secret that I have always admired Jennifer Jones, since she first broke on the scene and won the Canadian juniors in 1994. It should also come as no surprise that one small part of the reason I decided to name myself Jennifer was because of my admiration for Jones, both as an athlete and as a person.

But you know, respect and dignity are very important in athletics, as far as I am concerned, and I was shocked and saddened to learn that not only had Jennifer dumped her third, the legendary Cathy Overton-Clapham, but that she did so in a 'blind-sided' manner. It is very rare for a three time defending champion to make such a major line up change in any sport. It would be like the Patriots dumping Tom Brady, or the Penguins dumping Sidney Crosby.

Obviously, I have no idea as to the internal issues that this team faced. Who knows? Perhaps there was some conflict between Jones and Clapham. Bottom line, Clapham was winning world championships with Connie Laliberte when Jennifer was hitting herself in the head with a broomstick in the juniors. There seems to be a lack of respect here.

Clapham didn't wallow in pity for long though. She quickly regrouped and miraculously, put together a new team and showed up at the provincial play downs and won the entire thing. Now Clapham as skip will lead their province's best into the Scotties this week in Charlottetown. Among other match ups, her team will take on the new and so-called improved Jennifer Jones team on Feb 23. I can't help but sit here, as many sports fans often do, and cheer for the underdog. Wouldn't it be something to see Clapham not only beat Jones in the round robin, but go all the way to win the tournament? Seems like poetic justice to me!

Furthermore, as much as I have always liked Jennifer Jones, my personal loyalties in this sport have to lie with my original home province, and we all know that the greatest women's curler of all time is Nova Scotia's own Colleen Jones. Jennifer is attempting to match Colleen's record of 4 consecutive Canadian championships, and you know, part of me really wants to see Colleen keep that record all to herself. Several years ago, Colleen found herself ousted from her winning team, who went on to play with a new skip (without any major success, I might add). Colleen, at the age of 50, has once again put together a new team and lead them to greatness. Amazingly, Colleen has fallen ill with meningitis, and she was forced to recruit a new skip for her team. This team qualified for the Scotties and are in the draw as well. Once again, wouldn't it be an interesting case of poetic justice if Nova Scotia, now lead by Heather Smith-Dacey, were to knock off Jennifer Jones and go all the way?

Ahhh, drama. It's what makes sports even more exciting to watch. Well, let the games begin, and may the best team win!

(Depicted in the photos are me, very early in transition, with Jennifer Jones, and Cathy Overton-Clapham, when their team visited Newfoundland in April 2008, to play in the Tylenol Player's Championship).

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