How to make a curling mom cry
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The Rajala’s are a curling family. My husband Brian has been playing since he was a young boy, then he taught me the game after we finished college. So, it was only natural that when our two kids were small, we would introduce them to the sport as well, instead of the ever-popular hockey. They took to it like ducks on water.
Fast-forward to March 2020 and the U18 Northern Ontario Provincial Championships in the wonderful curling city of Sault Ste. Marie. Both my 17 year old daughter Lauren and her 14 year old brother Brendan and their respective teams had qualified for this event. The whole family was there. As a mom, I was not going to miss seeing them both play, and Brian is Brendan’s coach. By the age of 16, Lauren was already a two-time provincial champ, two-time national champ (2019 U18 Nationals and 2019 Canada Winter Games) and selected to play on the Canadian Youth Olympic curling team in Switzerland. For Brendan though, this was his very first provincials.
I was so proud and oh so nervous when they both made it to the championship final. It’s a good thing they were playing on the sheets next to each other or I would’ve worn a path in the carpet pacing back and forth at the Community First Curling Centre. The games were so close, and sure enough they both went to extra ends. To my astonishment and extreme relief, both games ended within seconds of each other and both kids were winners! But, it’s what happened next that is my most memorable moment in curling and as a mother. As their games ended, my daughter rushed over to her brother’s sheet and enveloped him in the biggest bear hug to celebrate. I was already in tears, but seeing them hugging and smiling from ear to ear sent me over the edge. Thank goodness our friend Jan Deschene was there to capture the moment for me! It was the sweetest moment, and I’ll never forget it.
This all happened a mere 5 days before Ontario’s first lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Curling got shut down and the kids were not able to attend the U18 National Championships which were to be played in our hometown of Sudbury. Nevertheless, we hold on to this happy memory, and hold out hope that we are able to get back soon to the sport we all love.