Curling Elite Amateur Sport

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Rachel Homan returning as full-time skip, after delivering third child

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By Martin Cleary

The 2023-24 competitive curling season starts in earnest on Friday for Rachel Homan’s legendary team and the rink that was ranked No. 3 in the world last season has undergone some significant changes.

And Homan, 34, is at the centre of two of the major developments.

When Team Homan steps onto the ice for the Saville Shootout in Edmonton this week, Homan won’t be in the lineup as she became a mother for the third time only eight days ago.

On Aug. 29, Homan gave birth to Briggs Craig German, who will be the younger brother to Ryatt Mitch, 4, and Bowyn, 2.

Homan will sit out the 20-team, $25,000 Saville Shootout and former national/international curler Heather Nedohin will serve as super spare, assuming the role of skip for the four-day shootout.

Team Homan reached the Shootout final in 2022, but lost 5-4 to the Jennifer Jones rink.

Nedohin, who has stayed connected to curling as manager of the Sherwood Park Curling Club but hasn’t been part of a competitive provincial/national-level team since 2014-15, was a well decorated skip or third during her 20-year on-ice career.

She appeared in seven Scotties Tournament of Hearts national women’s championships and won two Canadian titles, which led to bronze medals at the 1998 and 2012 world championships.

If Homan returns to action for the PointsBet Canada Invitational in Oakville Sept. 26 to Oct. 1, she will resume her familiar role as team skip. When Tracy Fleury joined the team in 2022-23, she was appointed skip, but Homan continued to throw last stones.

“Tracy Fleury will transition from the house to assume the traditional third role, while Rachel Homan takes on all skipping duties,” Team Homan said in a recent press release.

“This strategic realignment is a testament to the team’s adaptability and commitment to optimizing their strengths for maximum on-ice impact.”

Fleury added the team wants “to be the best we can be.”

“These changes reflect our determination to continually evolve to enhance our performance, individually and as a team,” she said. “It has been a different training experience over the summer for me personally, but I embraced the challenge, and I am excited to hit the ice with this team in September.”

Besides the positional role change at the back end of the rink, Team Homan also will have a new coach for this season. Former men’s player Ryan Fry filled that role in 2022-23, but a new opportunity led to him step down in the off season.

Don Bartlett, who has won medals at all the major competitions, will provide his sage advice as the Team Homan coach this season. As the lead for Kevin Martin’s former rink, he helped Canada win the silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and the 1991 world men’s championship.

On the domestic scene, Bartlett had six Brier medals between 1985 and 1997 – two gold (1991 and 1997), two silver (1985, 1996) and two bronze (1992 and 1995).

Bartlett is the former coach of the Brendan Bottcher rink.

“The team is confident that Don’s contribution will help propel (it) to new heights,” the press release added.

Team Homan will continue to be supported by four official sponsors: the Egg Farmers of Ontario, AMJ Campbell, BOOST and Goldline Curling Supplies. Holo Taco recently became Team Homan’s official nail polish sponsor.

The team jerseys will include the UnitedWeCurl logo to support the commitment “to change the face and space of curling.” The players’ official off-ice apparel will be provided by Knix.

Here is Team Homan’s schedule for the 2023-24 season:

Sept. 7-13: Saville Shootout – Edmonton, AB;
Sept. 26-Oct. 1: PointsBet Canada Invitational – Oakville, ON;
Oct. 17-22: Grand Slam of Curling, Tour Challenge – Niagara Falls, ON;
Nov. 7-12: Grand Slam of Curling, Boost National – Pictou County, NS;
Nov. 16-20: Red Deer Curling Classic – Red Deer, AB;
Dec. 12-17: Grand Slam of Curling, Masters – Saskatoon, SK;
Jan. 16-21: Grand Slam of Curling, Canadian Open – Red Deer, AB;
Feb. 16-25: Scotties Tournament of Hearts – Calgary, AB;
March 16-24: Women’s World Curling Championship – Sydney, NS*;
April 9-14: Grand Slam of Curling, Players Championship – Toronto, ON*.
*Pending qualification

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