Belgrave's Cottrills heading to national mixed doubles - March 7, 2019
BY DENNY SCOTT
Shawn and Katie Cottrill of Belgrave will be competing in their fourth national mixed doubles curling championship later this month; their first time representing their home province of Ontario.
In the past several years, the Cottrills have managed a berth in the championship based on season points alone, but, after a big win in Brampton over the weekend, the duo will be representing the province in the national competition in Fredericton, New Brunswick, beginning March 19.
Teams can compete in the tournament either through points or through winning provincial championships, earning the right to represent their home province as the Cottrills now have, realizing a major achievement for the couple.
“This has been one of our number-one goals since we started competing in mixed doubles six years ago,” Shawn said in an interview with The Citizen. “We lost in the final in 2015, lost in the semis in 2016 and haven’t been back to the playoffs since. It was pretty awesome to finally put on those Ontario jackets.”
Having qualified from the ‘A’ side of the provincial qualifiers, the team earned a bye in the tournament where they posted convincing wins over the the Konings/Wasylkiw rink (8-1) in the semi-finals and the Ryan/Sutherland rink (9-1) in the finals.
The win marks the start of some intense training for the couple, who have two weeks to prepare for the national competition, but it’s preferable to past experiences, Shawn said.
“Getting in on points is kind of a last-minute thing,” he said. “The nationals always have a conflict with the Women’s World Championship, so whatever team wins the Scotties Tournament of Hearts may back out, and you may not know who will be competing until a few days before the event.”
This year, however, Shawn was confident he and his wife Katie would be competing, saying they were ranked 10th in the country.
“Now, because of the win, we’ve got two weeks with lots of practice ahead of us, and we’re playing in the four-person mixed provincial qualifier over the weekend.”
And practice the team will, Shawn said, keeping one eye on the prize of representing Canada at the 2019 Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Stavanger, Norway, set to start April 20.
“We play in leagues two nights a week and practise at least one night a week, sometimes two, and, if we’re not in a spiel or competition, we practise on the weekend,” Shawn said. “We’re usually on the ice six days a week, but a minimum of five.”
Team Cottrill, as the couple is known, is representing the Wingham Golf and Curling Club this year and, with the win, brought the club its first banner in its 130-year history.
The club will be holding a social night on March 15, two days before the Cottrills fly out, to recognize the event. The event will start at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact Mike Cottrill at the club at 519-357-2179.
Playing for the Wingham club for the first time is important for Cottrill because he grew up playing there and the club has since undergone a renaissance over the past several years.
“We’ve always represented Listowel, but, this year, we decided to represent Wingham,” he said. “Wingham was where I started curling.”
Cottrill’s father Mike is the manager of the club and, after facing some tough financial situations in the past, the club’s administration and volunteers have really turned it around in the past couple years, Shawn said.
“The volunteers are making great strides,” he said. “I’m glad to be representing the club at the national championship and bringing some publicity to it.”
He said the club is in much better shape than it was two years ago and the curling surface has improved exponentially.
“They are doing a lot of great things in Wingham,” he said. “We’re excited to represent them this year.”
Shawn, who works at Howick Mutual Insurance, said that the team is indebted to its supporters that include, locally, his employer as well as Blyth’s Orr Insurance and Investment office, which has been supporting the team for five years.