With exactly a month to go until the start of the Scotties inside the curling bubble in Calgary, Team Jennifer Jones has firmed up its roster.
Longtime lead Dawn McEwen is pregnant and expecting in April, and will not enter the bubble. That means Lisa Weagle assumes the role for the entire event.
“I’m really excited to have the chance to play. You never know when you’re going to get back to another Scotties again so it’s nice to have that clarity,” Weagle told CBC Sports.
“Obviously we wish Dawn was there with us as our five-person team but she’s got a baby to prepare for and we’re really thrilled for her.”
When Team Jones made the announcement that Weagle would be joining them after being blind-sided by the news she had been let go from Team Rachel Homan last March, eyebrows were raised across the curling world about the decision — many wondered how they would determine who would play what games.
“We made that decision for a variety of reasons. Obviously illness or injury or pregnancy were a few of those reasons and it worked out perfectly,” Jones told CBC Sports.
After wearing the Ontario colours for years, Weagle is now ready to put on the Manitoba stripes and compete with what she calls a “powerhouse” curling team.
“I’m really excited. It’s been something to look forward to. And to be there with a new team. It feels like I’m a kid again. I have that sense of gratitude and the passion is back,” Weagle said.
“I’m just happy I was able to land on another world-class team. My family and friends have ordered a bunch of Manitoba hoodies and hats. They’re all in now.”
The team was able to play in a couple of events this past fall in Kitchener, Ont. Both Jones and Weagle say it was an immediate fit.
“We’re really fortunate that Lisa is a world-class lead. It feels like we’ve been playing with her for a really long time,” Jones said.
Weagle says the team has spent countless hours on Zoom and FaceTime, planning and strategizing for the Scotties.
“We just have this amazing knowledge base we’re able to build on,” Weagle said.
“We were laughing after our first meeting after our first game. It felt like I Had been part of the team for a really long time. Our communication has been great.”
Team Jones still has the opportunity to add a fifth player to its roster.
“We haven’t made that determination yet. The original plan when we put this team together was that we’d be a five-person team and we’re super happy for Dawn that she’s expecting,” said Jones. “The timing just doesn’t work for her right now and we’re totally supportive of that.”
WATCH | Heroux, Jones on the Calgary curling bubble:
Scotties set for Feb. 19
The Scotties bubble is set to begin on Friday, Feb. 19 with the championship game scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 28 — Curling Canada has said the field will include 18 teams this year due to unprecedented times in the midst of a pandemic.
“I’m beyond excited but also know that the world we live in these days, things can change any given second. We’re just taking it day-by-day,” Jones said.
Jones has won six Scotties titles as a skip, tied for most-ever with Colleen Jones.
Weagle has won the Scotties three times as a member of Team Homan.
But now a new chapter for these players is about to begin.
“It’s going to look a little different and feel a little different with the bubble and wearing a Manitoba jersey but I’m really excited for all of it,” Weagle said.
“At the end of the day, we all have the same goal and that’s to represent Canada.”