Sudbury curler Tracy Horgan is starting to develop "street cred."
Already very well-established within the northern Ontario branch of her sport, Horgan and her rink (Jennifer Horgan, Jenna Enge and Amanda Gates) took a giant leap forward in establishing national credibility, earning their first ever berth at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this past winter.
It seems that people noticed. Last weekend, Horgan was one of 27 "Celebrity Skips" invited to the Capital One Celebrity Bonspiel in support of Sick Kids Foundation that was staged at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club.
The field of guest skips included not only current world champion Glenn Howard, but also an international flavour with the likes of Sara Carlsson (Sweden), Ekatarina Galkina (Russia), Eve Muirhead (Scotland), Anna Sidorova (Russia), Anna Sloan (Scotland) and Silvana Tirinizoni (Switzerland) all on hand.
"I was pretty flattered," Horgan said recently at the Idylwylde Golf and Country Club, shortly before heading off to the fun-filled event. "I saw some of the other skips that were invited and, I'm not going to lie, I was pretty starstruck by some of the other people who will be there."
Playing in countless games that involve constant pressure, from start to finish, Horgan is looking forward to simply cutting loose.
"The main thing is to have fun and meet new people," she said. "It's all for a good cause.
"I've always grown up playing in funspiels and things like that, so there's always been my competitive curling and my fun curling," Horgan added.
With her first trip to the Scotties now a few months behind her, Horgan suggested that time has added some perspective.
"When we first got back, we might have been a tad disappointed in our record," Horgan said.
The Sudbury-based rink — the only team in the event that did not have at least one player with prior experience at the Canadian Women's Curling Championships — finished in seventh place in Red Deer, Alta., posting a record of 4-7.
"But with time to reflect, we think about what a good experience it was," she said. "If anything, it just makes us want to build more for next year."
Horgan confirmed that all systems are go with regards to the team remaining intact for the 2012-2013 season, with the added bonus this year that St. Benedict graduate Amanda Gates has returned to Sudbury, working full-time in the area.
While the Horgan sisters could practice with regularity at the Idylwylde, getting team sessions scheduled with Gates in Toronto and Enge in her hometown of Thunder Bay did prove challenging. Still, with the success they encountered last year, the team is quite committed to keeping Enge in the fold, despite the geographic realities.
With this latest bit of extra attention, one might expect Horgan to consciously control her ego. That is, if one did not know Horgan very well.
"I still feel that we're kind of underdogs, even at provincials next year, even though we won this year," said the always humble skip.
That said, don't expect the competitive nature of this team to diminish in the least. After attending their first Grand Slam event in Calgary last year, the team has increased the schedule to include three such stops this coming season, adding Winnipeg and Brantford to the mix, along with Cowtown.
And in the end, should a return trip to Scotties be in the cards, the experience of last year is sure to come in handy.
"It's hard to practice playing in that kind of environment," Horgan said. "It's hard to get used to the TV cameras, blocking out the cameras. But each time you go back, you get more and more comfortable with it."
And some day, perhaps, Horgan will be completely at ease as a "Celebrity Skip."
Posted by Laurel Myers