Joanne's curling career shaped by early Ottawa visit

By: Ellen Taylor

Joanne started curling at seven years of age in the Little Rocks program, with her older brother David, at the Crestwood Curling Club in Edmonton.

Her Dad was among the coaches, and I helped him slap on duct tape to the bottom of the kids’ running shoes before they hit the ice. Even though the club had a set of small-sized junior curling rocks, the kids heaved the regular curling rocks down the ice. The strength and determination that propelled Joanne to the top of the climbing rope at her Saturday morning gymnastics classes enabled her to hit the twelve-foot before long.

Joanne Courtney (Family Photo)

Joanne Courtney (Family Photo)

Joanne's birthday falls during the Brier. As a special birthday present, I took her to a draw at the 1999 Brier in Edmonton. Joanne made a sign that said "Extra Ends on my 10th Birthday" and was thrilled when she appeared on the big screen, holding it high over her head. Despite her wish, all of the games were over in 10 ends. Jeff Stoughton, who went on to coach Joanne in the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship, defeated the amiable and spirited Guy Hemmings in the final.

Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee

Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee

In 2001, I took Joanne to the Brier in Ottawa to celebrate her twelfth birthday. It was a special mother-daughter trip, time away from Joanne’s older brother and two younger sisters and the busyness of our day-to-day lives. I remember her talking excitedly about the next curling season, when she would skip her first junior team. She was especially jazzed about getting team uniforms.

At that Brier, Joanne held court on strategy during tight games with curling fans sitting around us. She was appalled when I suggested that we skip a draw and visit a local art gallery. After much pleading, and flat out bribery involving sour cream and onion chips, bridge mixture and licorice, she gave in. We also managed to squeeze in a tour of the Parliament buildings.

At that Brier final, an elderly gentleman treated Joanne to gourmet ice cream, a first for her, and I remember that he said he would be looking for her at the Tournament of Hearts someday.

Joanne was inspired by the masterful shots made at that Brier, not unlike Rachel and Emma, her future teammates who also attended that same event, although more than a decade would go by until she would meet them.

Ellen Taylor is the mother of Joanne Courtney.  She is in South Korea cheering on Joanne with her husband Ryan, son-in-law Mark Courtney, daughter Erin, son David and daughter-in-law Tessa.