Even when Smithers’ Rachelle Brown was young, she knew she would someday get the opportunity to compete at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
“I told my grandpa when I was really young, ‘I’m going to the Scotties.’ He said ‘okay’,” laughed Brown.
This year, Brown (formerly Pidherny), made her second appearance with Team Alberta as lead at the annual Scotties tournament in Moose Jaw from Feb. 14-22.
“It was amazing. It was a great crowd, so many awesome volunteers. It was definitely an amazing atmosphere and it felt really good,” said Brown.
She did more than just compete.
After 13 games, Brown, along with skip Val Sweeting, second Dana Ferguson and newcomer Lori Olson-Johns, found themselves competing against curling champion Jennifer Jones and the rest of Team Manitoba in the finals.
In the nail-biting finals, the teams traded haymakers. Manitoba opened with a deuce, but shortly after Alberta answered right back in the second.
The teams were forced to swap singles for the next six ends, but in the end, Manitoba took the game 6-5.
“It was really disappointing. It was really hard to lose,” said Brown.
“We went there to win the tournament. We really wanted to be Team Canada and wear the maple leaf on our backs next year and we felt really well prepared.
“We battled and left it all out on the ice.”
Brown, who left Smithers roughly 10 years ago and is currently a teacher in Alberta, credits her success on the ice to the town she grew up in.
“I’m really lucky because we have lots of great resources in Smithers. We had amazing ice at the curling club,” she said, adding that she played on a competitive team with girls from high school.
“We had lots of people supporting us and I learned a lot from my coaches in Smithers.”
One of the things she’s learned and carried with her: patience.
“In curling, you really need patience because sometimes things don’t go your way or just waiting for the time to attack or bail,” she said.
Despite travelling around Canada for tournaments (the team recently won the Home Hardware Cup in December), the 29-year-old has not forgotten her roots.
She got married in Smithers last summer and continues to visit her family in the winter.