PORT HAWKESBURY: Last Saturday, the Strait Area Community Curling Club was full of good cheer and even better pizza when a celebration was held for the SAERC Saints Boys Curling team and the SAERC Mixed Curling team.
“We set a goal for the team at the start of the year, and making it to the championship game accomplished it,” said Donald MacCuspic, who coaches the boys team with Mike McNamara. Ronnie Organ also works with the boys team and coaches the mixed squad.
The boys took silver at the Nova Scotia Student Athletic Federation provincials held in Truro Curling Club. Cobequid Education Centre ended up dropping the Saints in the 12-4 final. CEC also dropped SAERC in round robin, but other than that, the Saints won three of their four preliminary games: Middleton (9-4), Forest Heights (6-5), and Halifax West (7-1).
In the semi-finals, the Saints took down Forest Heights 7-2.
“We knew there was a strong team from CEC, and that was the main competition,” MacCuspic said. “We played them strong in the round robin, and got off to a shaky start on the first two ends but played well in the back ends. We came close, and we achieved our objective in the finals.
“The kids were a great bunch to coach. They were really nice kids who wanted to learn.
“The mixed team did very well too.”
The mixed team went 0-3, with losses to South Colchester Academy (10-4), Millwood (9-1) and Horton (12-0).
Both teams were Highland Region champs.
Members of the boys team were happy to return to their home rink with silver.
“It was certainly an experience to play in the Truro Curling Club and do so well, for our club and community,” said Michael Steele. “We had some hard games, some close games, some not-so-close games, and it was a lot of fun. This was one of our better seasons.
“We were feeling confident once we entered provincials. We played well all year.”
Gabriel Organ was also happy to medal, and he noted a second place finish was an improvement from their fourth place finish in 2018.
“The team that won went to U-18 Nationals, so they are a high level squad,” Organ said.
“The coaches were had were really good. There are a bunch of good curlers here; it’s nice that they helped us out. We’re really lucky to have this facility. Our ice maker is one of the best in the province.”
Simon Maltby also had praise for his coaches and the club. In fact, all five members of the boys team gave their coaches a big thumbs up.
“We really enjoyed the whole experience of the tournament and just having an opportunity to play against such great competition and great human beings in general,” he said.
“It really was a wonderful thing to experience with the whole team. We’ve known each other really well for about five or six years, so to be able to curl with some of your best friends is a great experience.”
Another curler representing SAERC was Juan Jimenz, an exchange student who noted he’ll have to explain curling once he arrives back to his native Spain.
“Most people back home don’t know what curling is, so this is very cool,” he said, laughing.
“This is a game I don’t play in my home country, and it was pretty exciting for me to win in my first year playing. It went really well. We were expecting to be competitive against the other teams, and it was a really good time.”
Also representing SAERC’s boys team was Federico Zovatto. Sadly, Zovatto was unable to make the party as he was working hard at the Strait Area Pool. However, he chatted with The Reporter by phone the next day.
“I’m extremely proud of what the team did,” he said, noting that he and his teammates knew CEC would be tough. “Their mate and their skip are playing for the U-18 provincial team in Alberta right now. They caught a lead on us at the start, but we calmed down in the third end and started focusing again.
“I thank Donald MacCuspic for coming out every Thursday and helping us get ready for provincials, and Mike McNamara for coaching us at provincials.”