Reputation plays a big role in finding a team in curling.
Case in point, after regularly making provincials through her bantam years, Mallory Kean found being absent from juniors and university play meant having to get some exposure all over again.
Kean, 29, is playing this week in the Ontario Tournament of Hearts, more commonly known as the Ontario Scotties due to its title sponsor. Her team represents the Westmount Golf and Country Club in Waterloo Region. Her three teammates are all Laurier University alumni: Carly Howard, Kerilynn Mathers and Cheryl Kreviazuk.
Taking time away from curling to focus on university and now the mother of two children Parker, 7 and Kaleigh, 3 meant a lot of time taken away from a sport she loves. Kean felt she was now an unknown quantity.
“Especially when you are in your early 20s and you don’t really have a junior reputation, Kean said.
Plugging away at club level, she was a member of some Ontario tour teams and played with the likes of Stacey Brandwood and Alison Goring.
“My passion and competitive nature has never gone away but life sent me a couple of curveballs but thankfully Mark (Kean) and I were connected. He really, really helped me get back in the door and network again,” Mallory said.
Already a longtime couple, Mark and Mallory married in August 2014.
Mark, skip of Team Ontario at the 2015 Brier as well as having a high profile in competitive events plus provincial and world tours, helped Mallory get some exposure through mixed doubles nationals in 2014 and 2015. The Keans also made provincials mixed fours.
“Throw as many rocks as you can in front of as many people as you can and stay positive,” Kean said of getting noticed. “(Potential teammates) see some good shots and they answer your messages all of a sudden.”
Accompanying Mark to the 2015 Brier really paid off.
“Because he went to the Brier, I was able to hang out with Carly Howard and Kerilynn (Mathers),” Kean said. The pair are sisters of Scott Howard and David Mathers who were Mark’s teammates.
“We kind of connected and spent some time together. We came back (from the Brier) and said ‘maybe we have something here’ and they took a leap of faith.”
Kreviazuk was a teammate from Laurier days and a new team was born.
The merging of Keans, Howards, Matherses and Kreviazuks (Cheryl’s sisters are Lynn and Alison) is a joining of four well-known curling families with tons of support and an incredible network to tap into.
“We are constantly immersed (in curling), talking about it and strategy. It’s innate in us,” Kean said.
There was even a Saturday spent with Glenn Howard coaching strategy with the Kean team.
It appears to have paid off with three top-three finishes on tour this year before making it to the Hearts via the second qualifier held in Listowel.
Timing can’t be better since Tuesday was Mallory’s birthday.
“I get a day off for my birthday so win or lose that’s all right. I prefer to win though,” Kean said with a laugh.
The Hearts continue all this week in Brampton. Championship is Sunday. Follow results at www.ontcurl.com. Kean was 1-1 going into Tuesday night’s game against Jacqueline Harrison.
Guelph fill team wins provincials
Amanda Gebhardt’s Guelph Curling rink of Linda Tartt, Carolyn McMillan and Katrina Lindsay won the Ontario Best Western Women’s Challenge.
“We were happily informed that we qualified to go to the provincials,” said Gebhardt via email
“We left, hoping to win a game or two, but my team played really well and we just kept winning.”
Gebhardt won Trophy in 2013 with clubmate Kathy Brown, For the rest of the team it was a first.
Galt Country’s Anne Dunn with teammates Carol Thompson, Fran Todd and Vicki Marianchuk were winners of the master women’s title Jan. 6 in a tiebreaker game over Jennifer Langley. Team Dunn will head to Wolfville, Nova Scotia for the still unsanctioned national.
In Zone 12 bantam play in Fergus Sam Mooibroek (Galt Country) in boys and Emma Clendenan (Galt) and Aubrey Kropf (K-W) advanced to regions hosted by Elmira Jan. 23.
In men’s Tankard challenge round Wayne Tuck and Pat Ferris were the final qualifiers for the men’s curling provincial. Ferris’ Grimsby rink has Guelph regulars Andrew and Craig Fairfull on the squad.
In Region 3 senior women’s Galt’s Dale Curtis went 3-0 to advance to provincials. Paisley’s Lori Thomson won B with K-W members Carrie Mellor and Leanne Kuntz on the team. K-W Granite’s Peter Mellor (playing out of Chesley this year) also advanced to provincials.
Canadian juniors begin Saturday at the Stratford Rotary Complex. Team Ontario men’s has Kitchener’s Matt Hall at second. The team is skipped by Doug Kee.
Region 3 Intermediates are on in North Halton with K-W 's Chris Campbell and Guelph's KoKo Gillis competing in men's. Mary Pidgeon and Kathy Brown in women's. Appears that OCA forgot to have the Zone 10 men playdown so there is an early game for a one-time playoff between Cam Devine and defending champion Cory Heggestad.
Twitter: @belfrycurling, Blog: In The House