Submitted by Jenny Hagan
The Swift Current Curling Club has one of the top facilities in Saskatchewan, so it is no surprise many talented curlers call this rink home. It was at this facility where I met with local curler Kelly Schafer who will be representing Saskatchewan at the upcoming Scotties Tournament of Hearts on February 17-26th in Kamloops.
The road to the Scotties was not a paved one for the team. They had some obstacles to overcome along their way, but with their passion for the sport and perseverance Kelly, a 3rd on team Silvernagle, hoisted the provincial trophy after an 8-4 win over Nancy Martin in Estevan on January 29th
It was at the 2010 Woman’s Curling Championship in Swift Current, Kelly fell in love with what the city had to offer. No “it wasn’t the weather” she joked. It was where she met her now husband Jerrod and led the former Scotland resident to move to Swift Current in 2011.
Kelly is no stranger to the world of championship curling, she had an extraordinarily successful career curling for Scotland and Great Britain, making three Olympics appearances. She had hoped to continue her successful career after moving to Canada but due to rules within Curling Canada she was prevented from competing at this level until she acquired her Canadian citizenship.
This turned out to be a lengthy process and after seven years and the constantly changing regulations, the goal of Canadian citizenship and curling for Canada seemed out of grasp. No closer to citizenship she made the decision to curl again with Great Britain in 2017 to qualify for the 2018 Olympics, where she and her team placed 4th. This pushed her citizenship even further back and she all but gave up the dream of curling competitively in Canada.
Long before moving here, Kelly from her home in Scotland, always tuned in to watch the Scottie Tournament of Hearts. Scottish curlers keep a close eye on their competition for the Worlds. Kelly compares Canadian Nationals to World Nationals in size and magnitude. Kelly states that in terms of fan support of the tournament. “Canadians are the best curling fans.” It took 10 years for her to see her dream of competing at the Scottie Tournament of Hearts become a reality.
Honoured to don that green jacket at this year’s Scottie’s and represent Saskatchewan is something she does proudly for a province that she now calls home and that has given her so much support on her journey.
Kelly states how lucky she feels to have discovered Swift Current and that for a small community to have such a tremendous facility with fantastic ice is amazing she echoes that the same standards of excellence appear in many neighbouring communities throughout Saskatchewan as well. The support for curlers young and old is prominent, and the curling community celebrates anyone doing well in the sport.
The send-off party to the Nationals for Kelly was a great indication of the pride we have in our curlers. On February 9th, the lounge and the rink were packed with people to congratulate Kelly and wish her well on her way to Nationals.
Kelly leaves this week for the Scottie Tournament of Hearts with her biggest fans husband Jerrod and son Darby. This year’s Scottie Tournament of Hearts is hosted in Kamloops, BC February 17-26th. Those of us in Saskatchewan will be proudly cheering her and her team on, as Kelly represents the heart of what Saskatchewan is with community, family, grit and perseverance as well as our love of the provincial sport of curling.