We have all heard the old saying ‘practice makes perfect’. But for the Malvern girls curling team determination and improvisation were likely the factors that led them to a spot in the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championships from March 21-24 in Niagara.
There were no practices. They could not afford them.
Add to that the fact that only one of the seven team members is a club player, and you have a Cinderella story.
Malvern teacher and team coach Heather Farintosh could barely believe it when her squad finished their final game with a 8-6 victory on March 6 at the Toronto Cricket Club.
“I’m very proud of these girls,” said Farintosh at the end of the match.
Malvern’s glory came at the expense of another local school, Birchmount, who lost last year in the last rock against Richview. Birchmount had recently defeated Malvern 9-0.
“It’s very exciting. Everyone was very focused, we knew what we had to do and we did it,” said an emotional Emma Iscaro at the end of the match.
Because ice time is so expensive at curling arenas, the team was forced to “jump right in” and learn as they played season games.
“We practise as we play, and it’s quite an achievement to make it this far with that lack of practice,” said Farintosh.
That wouldn’t seem too bad if the girls were all playing outside of school, but they were not. Only one player, grade 10 student Bronte Chin, plays at club level. All other team members are first year curlers.
Her father, Tony Chin, says she has been curling since she was 11-years-old and curls out of Tam Heather.
As the team’s skip (or captain), Bronte is looked at as a leader amongst the team and also enjoys providing guidance to her team-mates.
“She is very strong and talented,” said Farintosh adding that she always answers when the team most needs her and makes the big shots.
Farintosh is hoping the team has the facilities to practise in the future, suggesting that sponsorships could help resolve the issue. She also wonders if local curling clubs could donate ice time during off-peak times.
“It all comes down to money,” said Farintosh. At $250 per hour for ice time, the team would have to charge the players a considerable fee to be on the team and have practice time. With only five to seven players on the team on average, that would incur a great expense on the players’ families.
“Malvern is a fortunate school and priveledged in a lot of ways, but that doesn’t mean that all of our students are in that position,” added Farintosh.