HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
FOR THE LOVE OF CURLING – PART 1: The phone rings. Your first instinct is to answer it. But it could be yet another telemarketing call. Or it could be good news.
On this day, Celeste Gauthier was busy in a meeting and understandably let the call drift to her voicemail. In retrospect, it would have been worthwhile picking up as she would have learned, a little sooner, about news benefitting her curling career.
When she retrieved the voicemail message from a Curling Canada representative and made the call, she was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to share her excitement with friends and family.
The Ottawa curler, who is entering her second year studying graphic communications management at Ryerson University, learned she was one of 10 student-athletes selected by Curling Canada to win a For the Love of Curling scholarship.
The Governor General’s Curling Club, an honourary society under the patronage of the Governor General since 1874, also selected one student-athlete, Chantel Hoag of Gravelbourg, SK, a kinesiology student at the University of Regina.
Gauthier, who plays lead on Tori Zemmelink’s curling rink based in Cambridge, ON., will receive a $2,500 scholarship to support her educational goals and pursuit of excellence in curling.
The scholarship awards list also included Ottawa’s Calissa Daly, who is taking her masters in public administration at Queen’s University, and Calgary’s Christopher Pratt, a global and international studies student at Carleton University.
“When I received the call this year, I was actually in a meeting with my team (Team Zemmelink) and so had sent the call to voicemail,” Gauthier wrote in an email. She was unsuccessful in her scholarship application in 2020.
“When I had listened to the Curling Canada representative over voicemail, Karsten Sturmay, say he had ‘good news’ to share with me, I couldn’t have called him back fast enough.
“I told all of my closest friends and family right away because of how excited I was and I was beaming the whole night.”
Gauthier, who graduated Merivale High School in 2020, started curling at eight years old in her hometown of Cochrane, AB. She was encouraged to play by a middle-school friend, but knew about the game through her parents and grandparents.
She embraced curling when she was told it was “a wonderful and fun community sport” that was “very strategic and mentally challenging.”
Gauthier was lead for the Manotick Curling Club rink of Emily Deschenes, who was runner-up at the 2019 Canadian U18 women’s championship. Deschenes lost to Sudbury’s Bella Croisier, also a 2021 For the Love of Curling scholarship winner.
“To me, being a recipient of the For the Love of Curling Scholarship means that Curling Canada sees your potential in the Canadian curling community and as someone who hopes to go as far in curling as I possibly can – being a recipient means that even Curling Canada believes in my dreams,” continued Gauthier, who won a gold medal at the 2020 Ontario Winter Games, when the Deschenes rink defeated Croisier 4-3 in the final.
Gauthier, 18, will play the 2021-22 curling season on skip Tori Zemmelink’s five-player team, which also includes McKenna McGovern, Emily Middaugh and Larissa Musselman plus coaches Byron Scott and Stu Anderson.
If you ask Gauthier what she loves about curling, everything actually, be prepared to pour yourself a coffee and listen to her speak enthusiastically about one of Canada’s top winter sports.
Having the intellectual challenge of thinking on your feet is an intriguing challenge for her brain and body. Curling also has taught her about herself and her core values as well as “how familial and welcoming the curling community is.”
She knows every player is essential to the team as a whole, “yet there’s also a key individual aspect to it.” The learning never stops with every shot, game and practice.
“To keep learning in life, in general, is something I’m really passionate about and strongly believe in,” Gauthier added. “Curling allows me to explore learning in such an interesting way that both challenges me and keeps luring me back in for more. To sum it up, curling pushes me to be the best version of myself, on and off the ice.”
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.