We had some very high highs this weekend and some very low lows!

We were up and at the club again early Sunday morning for the  “Sudden-Death Red Division Quarter-Final”.

Evan had been fretting before the game and we heard him use the word “pressure” many times.  We told the kids that the only pressure we were putting on them was to go out and have fun, just like they did in every other game.

Todd took them over to the club, as he did the whole weekend and we followed behind.  They did everything as a team this weekend.  They had to have time to change their shoes, stretch out, sign in, etc.

We  grabbed seats upstairs in front of the window and waited for the game to start.  We watched and listened as other parents & coaches were giving their teams last-minute words of advice, but we stayed out of their way and left it all up to Todd.  When they hit the ice, we could tell that they weren’t as loose as they had been during the games the two days before.  The skip of the other team was from Chester and exuded confidence from the moment they were out on the ice.  I noticed that he had a big smile during the handshakes before the start of the game and was chatting easily in the house while the game was going on.  At the same time, Evan was looking stiff and serious.

As the game started, Uncle Mike and Aunt Kim arrived and then Ginna, Beanah & the girls showed up, although we hadn’t known they were coming.  Apparently, the girls had been awake early, so they decided to hop in the car and come back! Sarah, especially, didn’t seem so thrilled to be there.  We hadn’t brought the cooler in and she was looking for treats.

The first end was pretty evenly played, but the other team ended up stealing one.  The kids were having a hard time reading the ice, and in End 2 many of the first rocks thrown just slid right through.  They did managed to each have a rock in the house in the second end, but their’s was closer to the button and they ended up stealing another point in the second end.

In the third end, by the time it was Evan’s turn to throw, there were two rocks in the ring – one red & one blue and with red (them) lying shot. Evan and Lindsey discussed what to do and made the call that Evan would try to draw (a shot he’s confident with) to get at least one point.  Todd was frantically trying to catch their attention from behind the glass to call a time-out.  The skip of the other team noticed and pointed it out to Evan who did call a time out.

Todd suggested that rather than trying to draw for a maximum of one point, he should try to take out the red and then they would be ahead with two.  They went with that play and Evan missed the shot.  The other team stole a third point, putting our team under enormous pressure in the final end!  They had to get three to tie the game.

In the fourth end, they started filling up the house with rocks.  Their skip tried to knock one of ours out, but hit his own through instead.  We had a chance!!  Evan had hammer, and a chance to tie the game.  He threw his rock, but it didn’t make it into the house.  The other skip threw his last rock and knocked one of ours out, leaving us with no chance of taking three; the most we could get was two.

Evan conceded the game and they all shook hands.

Todd brought the kids upstairs and I could tell from the look on Evan’s face that he just wanted to be by himself.  He didn’t want anyone congratulating him or even talking to him because he was close to the breaking point.  We said our goodbyes to everyone who had come to cheer them on and sent my parents & the girls back home.  They had been planning to leave the girls with us, but hadn’t brought bathing suits and we hadn’t checked out of the hotel yet, not knowing what they day held.

The whole team went back downstairs to thank the officials for a great tournament and the other three were all joking around with one another and getting ready to go back to the hotel for a swim.  Evan was hanging back by himself and taking his time getting changed.  I tried to encourage him along and he asked me if he could spend the Lucky Loonie that my mother had given him before the tournament started.  I said, “Oh no, Evan.  I think she intended for that to be something that you keep with you to take for luck as you go on, but I have a Loonie here (holding it out to him) and you can spend that.”

And the tears started.

And once they started, he couldn’t stop.

He shut down in that moment and wouldn’t talk and refused to go back in the van with Todd and the team.  He just wanted to be by himself to wallow.  We all tried to encourage him to go with the team and the other kids were chanting “EVAN! EVAN! EVAN!” to no avail.  Finally, in the interest of getting back to the hotel, we sent the others on and he rode back with us.  During the ride, we tried to talk & reason with him, but he would have none of it. He shifted the blame to me, saying he was upset because I wouldn’t let him spend his own money!

I got out at the hotel while Evan went to park with D’Arcy.  I told Todd & Janice that I felt that the tears were not because they lost the game, but because he felt he had lost the game for the team.  He had been off and didn’t make any of his shots.  Everyone else knew that the team didn’t feel that way – except Evan.

I don’t know what else D’Arcy & Evan talked about while they parked the van, but it was close to an hour later when they came in to the hotel room with a helmet full of treats.  Evan apologized and gave me a big hug, then offered me a brownie he had bought for me.  He had a different treat for everyone there.  He got into his bathing suit and D’Arcy took him down to the pool while I packed up.  I went down when all our things were together and he was in the hot tub by himself while the rest of the kids frolicked in the pool.

We told them it was time to go upstairs because it would soon be lunch time and time to go.  Madison’s mom was chomping at the bit to get back to their family, so they were ready to leave as soon as Madison was changed.  We had a brief team meeting in the hall outside our rooms where Evan gave each of them the treat he had bought for them and said to them, “Thank you for being on my team.”  They talked about the tournament and the fact that during the first practice, Todd had wondered what he had gotten himself into because they were all having a hard time and couldn’t get their rocks across the hog-line.  That prompted a lot of laughter! We discussed what next year would bring.  Todd told us that in his mind, Evan is a natural Skip and that’s the position he would groom him for.  He’s a real thinker and understands the game.  At the same time, he told Evan that when you’re skip, you get to celebrate the highs, but you also own the lows and need to learn how to shake it off.  (Easier said than done when you’re eleven!)

They will be too old for pre-juniors next year, so have decided that Christopher will join the team and they want Alex to be their 5th.  Not sure if that will work because he’s two years younger than the others, but we’ll see what happens!  Todd is definitely interested in continuing on with them and we couldn’t ask for a better coach!

We all said our good-byes and we went to Grandma & Grandpa’s for lunch.  We had a great visit and Evan was actually quite pleasant.  Grandma even offered to let them take their lunch in front of the television, but they opted to stay at the table with us instead!  It’s not often that we get a quiet visit by ourselves with D’Arcy’s parents, so I think the boys felt quite special! We cut our visit short because we had to make another stop at Mike & Kim’s on the way out of the city; they had some stuff for us.  As it turned out, they had two antique curling stones – real ones, heavy ones – that they sent along with us.  They boys think they are great!

They slept all the way home and when we got here, Evan was shutting down again.  My parents realized what was going on and left fairly quickly.  As it turned out, the Women’s World Championship Curling was on, so we went back & forth between watching that and checking for the Little Rocks updates on the computer.  The team that won against us was knocked out in the next game.

Evan was still glum, so I dug out a book on “Curling like a Champion”, written by Colleen Jones, which D’Arcy had given me for Christmas a few years back.  I was trying to find some words of wisdom in it for him.  I showed him the book and pointed out that it even had diagrams of plays from actual big-name games.  People who we had met while we were at the Brier.  And then we saw that Jennifer Jones, who was  the skip of the team curling in the game we were watching on television at that moment had made a play similar to the one Evan missed and she had missed it too!

Serendipity!

He started to talk and to open up.  He expressed his disappointment, and when I told him that no one on his team blames him for missing the shot, he replied quietly through his tears, “But I do.

We had a great night after that.  Evan was still glum, but not morose.  Alex kept telling me that he was just happy that they had made it to the Red Division in the first place!  We talked in their room long past bedtime, but it was good talking.  While we were up there, D’Arcy brought the laptop up with some video clips of some of their best shots of the weekend that he had set to music.  They made us all laugh and prompted Evan to start remembering the great shots he had made in the other games.

They have curling on Tuesday and Evan has decided to leave band early so he can go and be with his team.

After all, they have to start getting ready for Juniors!

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First in our Division

March 20, 2010

Another great day at the Little Rocks tournament!

We were up early again (I don’t know how the hockey parents do it!) to have breakfast before heading back to the curling club in lots of time for their 8:30 draw.  We got ourselves situated upstairs beside none other than the parents of the nasty team, who were playing on the sheet next to us.  Both Janice & I wanted to say something to them about their team’s behavior, but after listening to them converse with one another for a few minutes, we decided that it would probably all go over their heads anyway!

The boys had a great game and Uncle Mike & Aunt Kim showed up to cheer them on again!  We were joking that they are the boys’ good luck charms, so they’d need to come back for each game!  They were playing another mixed team, another of the few in the tournament.  They ended up winning 5:3, and immediately afterwards, they conducted the Draw-to-the-button” contest.

The purpose of drawing to the button is to determine how a tie gets broken.  Each player on the team throws a stone to the button (with sweepers).  If the rock is in play, they get 1 point, 12 ft gets 2 points, 8ft gets 3 points, 4 ft gets 4 points and the button gets five points.  Madison’s rock went right through the house to the other side, Alex’s hit the 8 ft for three, Lindsey’s was on the button for five, and Evan’s went right through.  This gave them a total of eight points in the event of a tie.

When that contest was over, we came back to the hotel for some down time.

We told them that they didn’t have time for a swim, so they came into our room to play “Sorry” and “Children’s Trivial Pursuit”, have some snacks and giggle.  It was really quite fun to listen to them!

Chilling out during some down-time

We went back to the club around noon so that the kids could have some lunch (they had coupons for free hot-dogs, fries & juice) before they played their next game.  We also wanted to save seats by the window because we knew that my parents were bringing the girls down and  Mike & Kim were hoping to make it back for the game too.  Before we knew it, my parents & the girls were there and the game was starting.  Michael, Emily & Phinn arrived, then at mid -point, Uncle Mike showed up.  (Kim was still home getting ready for their house concert tonight.)

Watching their brothers with Mama

Their fan club, cheering them on!

A proud sister, loved seeing her brothers on the ice!

The game started off great with our team scoring 3 in the first end.  The other team scored two in the second and then Evan tapped one of their rocks up which allowed them to score two more.  Evan admitted to me afterwards that when he did that, it made his eyes “feel prickly”!  You could tell the pressure was on in the fourth end.  Just as Evan was about to throw the last rock, Sarah announced that she had to go potty!  I told her to wait a minute because it was the last rock!  She said she couldn’t wait, so I ran her into the bathroom, told her I’d be right back, and got to the window just in time to see Evan throw.  He didn’t take quite enough ice, so rather than drawing for two, which was his intent, he ended up knocking out his own rock which was already in the house, but luckily was shot-rock.

This tied the game 4:4 and necessitated another draw-to-the-button for the skips.

Stress.

Kim copied us on an email that she sent to Chris & Ian which reported, in part:

After two days round robin play, Team (Evan) emerged as the number one qualifier from Division 1. In the last game of the round robin, a tie was settled with a draw the button by each skip. Evan, throwing first, came out with guns blazing and sent a pistol shot to cover the pin.

(She’s being kind saying that it covered the pin, but it did hit the button!)  The skip of the other team threw too light and it didn’t make it close enough.

We found out after-the-fact that the team we had played has been together for two years!!  We have two first-year period curlers on our team!

An elated team came upstairs for congratulations from their fans before everyone dispersed.  Ginna & Beanah were definitely happy that they’d been able to come and watch such an exciting game!  I think that Sarah & Olivia were relieved that the games were only four ends each rather than the long ones they’ve been forced to watch recently with the Olympics & the Brier on!!

Who's broom will Olivia pick?

Everyone else left from the club and we came back to the hotel to swim & relax.  We love this hotel because the kids usually have the pool to themselves.  (It’s generally a business hotel – that might be a best-kept-secret!)  Lindsey & Madison’s mom had decided to go shopping so the rest of us made plans to meet for supper at six.  We realized that the game  that decided where we placed took place at the same time, so we talked to Todd to say that we (Evan) really wanted to go watch that game to see how it went.  (Alex just wanted to go to Dairy Queen!)

In the end, we all went to the game.  If Team L won, we would be in the “Yellow” (2nd) Division, and if Team C won, we would be in a three-way tie and it would come down to the draw-to-the-button contest from earlier today.  We knew we had eight points, but didn’t know about what the other teams had made.  When we got to the club, each team’s results were posted: while we had 8, the other two teams that we were tied with had 1 and 0.  We knew that if Team C won, we’d be first in our Division!!

And guess what? Team C won!!  It went to a tie-breaker and we are first (Red) in the division!  Pretty good, especially considering Evan’s goal was that he did not want to be in the Black (Last)Division.  Todd’s goal, as we learned tonight, was for them to win at least one game!

We’ve met our goals!

We went out for supper to Dairy Queen, at Lindsey’s brother Christopher’s request.  It’s the first time we’ve been to DQ since Olivia’s peanut allergy diagnosis.  (Not that we had anything with peanuts!) We came back to the hotel right after supper so that the kids could get right to bed.

Our first game is at 8:30 tomorrow morning and Evan is worried about it.  We’ve talked to them about it and told them to keep playing and having fun like they did all weekend.

If we win our 8:30 game, we play again at 1:15; if we lose, we’re out!

Keep your fingers crossed!!

*Too tired to correct spelling & grammar tonight.  My eyes are crossed…  We also have video but can’t figure out how to upload it!

Little Rocks!

March 20, 2010

We’re in Halifax with the boys for their first curling tournament, the “Little Rocks Championships”.  Their team has been together for about a month, preparing, and it’s a dream-come-true for Evan who has wanted to be a curler since he was four years old!

The boys were ready & packed up last night and we had my parents booked to stay with the girls since three days of curling is really quite boring for them!  Sleep was elusive for Evan, who was still awake after ten last night, being too “nervous, excited and happy” to fall asleep.  He was up at the crack-of-dawn (probably before!) ready for his breakfast of champions – egg-in-the-hole – before getting dressed.  As the boys were waiting for their parents to get everything together, Evan discovered he had messages from both his cousin Chris, and from Ian – his curling IDOLS!  (It was while watching Chris and Ian play at the National level while they were Juniors that Evan decided he wanted to be a curler.  The fact that they were playing their first game at “Chris & Ian’s Club” at their first Championship is just the icing on the cake!!)  The messages were full of encouragement for the boys but what their parents appreciated most was that the message from both was to have fun and let the rest fall into place!

All the kids (and parents) met up at our place at 9:00 and the kids all drove together with Todd, their coach.    Evan was worried that he’d not know what “strategy” to use and we assured him that he’d be able to chat with Todd and the team about that on the way down.  My mom, who not only has an interest in our own kids, but also taught Maddison in Primary and feels a connection with Lindsey because she’s the daughter of Sandy’s cousin Todd, wrote all the kids notes with different inspirational quotes and taped in a “lucky” Terry Fox Loonie  for each of them which Evan was able to present on the way down.

Ready to go!

We got down there in good time and got ourselves registered and ready.  The boys were joking with us that there are disadvantages to being early (they’re used to being on family-time which means getting there at the very last minute)  – their nerves were getting the best of them!   Luckily, it wasn’t long before they were out on the ice!

The team in their pre-game pose

A few last minute tips - have fun! - from Coach Todd!

They lost their first game to a good team, but the score was 3:2.  They came off the ice glowing and excited, stating “We almost won!”  I was glad to hear them looking at the positive rather than dwelling on the fact they lost.  They said that the other team had “great etiquette”, and that they had been complimenting one another back & forth on their good shots.  We had been joking back & forth with the parents of the opposing team, rooting for one another’s teams as they played.  The handshakes were genuine all around as the game was over.

We had a break between the two games so went across the street to the Steak and Stein for lunch, then off to the next club for the next game.

We had a few minutes to spare there as well while we waited for their 3:00 game.

They stretched out and then headed for the ice.

Wish I had this much fun while stretching...

They had to call an official to measure how many points - we got two in that end!

The team after their first win! 4:2

Unfortunately, we learned after they got off the ice that the other team had been pretty nasty while they were playing.  Alex was in tears when he told us that after one particularly nice shot he made, the lead from the other team said, “f^&% you” to him!  They were yelling “psych” as the kids on our team were trying to make their shots, and one kid threatened to pull the fire alarm because they were losing.  It’s too bad, but we tried to make it a teachable moment.

They had to go back down on the ice for the “Opening Ceremony” which consisted of all 43 teams lining up on the ice while someone threw a rock down between them.

Opening Ceremony

Our team

With Coach Todd

After the Ceremony, we came back to the hotel for swimming, hot-tubbing & time in the sauna.  It was great for them to be able to release some energy!

We went to Boston Pizza for supper and giggled through it before coming back to the hotel to get the kids into bed so they can get up again early in the morning for their 8:30 game.

Evan told us that one of the highlights of his day was looking up to see us in the glass and spotting Uncle Mike & Aunt Kim (Chris’ parents) there to watch them!