For many, the Amethyst Curling Camp is all about the future, providing countless young curlers the opportunity to refine their technique and garner a better understanding of game strategy, all under the watchful eyes of some of the best coaches the country has to offer.
But the week-long gathering, making its annual visit to Sudbury this week, also provides for a glance back at some of the highlights from the previous year.
On Monday night at the Great Hall at Laurentian University, the Krysta Burns bantam girls team was recognized for its remarkable run at the 2012 Ontario Winter Games in Collingwood, culminating with gold medals for the local crew.
Joined by teammates Monica Graham, Sara Guy, Michela Nero and coach Rodney Guy, the representatives of the Idylwylde Golf and Country Club were on hand Monday, sharing both in the celebration of their achievement, but also taking part in the week-long camp, staged at both the university campus as well as Countryside Arena.
After capturing the northern Ontario banner in 2011, Team Burns went into the 2012 Games as the third seed out of the north, essentially going into the all-Ontario event as the lowest seeded team.
"My goal was to win one game," second Sara Guy said. "My expectations were probably a little bit lower than they should have been, because it's really high competition, especially from southern Ontario."
Entering play in March, the Lauren Horton rink from Almonte Curling Club were considered the odds-on favourites to walk away from Collingwood with gold.
"We played Team Horton in our second game and won," coach Guy said. "That's when the girls first realized they had a chance to do it."
It's funny that once the snowball of momentum begins to gather steam, especially in teenage athletes, it can be awfully tough to stop.
"Mentally, once we started to win, we got a lot more serious," Burns said. "Everyone took a step up once we started to win. When we stay positive, that's what really propels us."
The exact same foursome also compete together representing the Marymount Academy Regals, an added bonus in the eyes of their skip.
"The high school curling is much more relaxed, so it's a chance to have fun," Burns said. "We get to try things that we wouldn't in a more competitive setting."
Still, there is nothing like the adrenaline of competition for these young curlers.
"Winning the Winter Games was unbelievable," Nero said.
Following in the curling footsteps of an older brother and sister at Little Rocks some years ago, Graham, the team's vice, admitted that she was in for a real eye-opener when she initially stepped on the ice after watching her siblings from the other side of the glass.
"I thought (curling) was mostly physical, but the mental aspect of the game really turned it around for me," Graham said. "I'm a strong believer in mind over matter."
A long-time curler, Rodney Guy jumped into the coaching ranks some eight years ago, spending the past three to four years with his daughter and her teammates. To some extent, he echoed the sentiments of his team's vice in explaining what he tries to accomplish as coach of four teenage girls.
"The dynamics to create team cohesion," Guy said. "You can work on their technical skills all day, but if you can't get each one to embrace their role on the team, it's going to be tough."
With the entire team returning for one more year at the Bantam ranks, the local girls are hoping to reclaim the Northern Ontario Bantam banner they first captured two years ago, looking to advance to the provincials at the junior level as well.
Posted by Laurel Myers