GOOD SPORTS

A series on the athletes in your neighbourhood

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STORY BY Darryl Webster

PHOTOS BY Eric Patrick Hong

Jodi McCutcheon, High Park’s curling champ

Burrowing into a quiet residential street just a few hundreds yards north of the Gardiner Expressway, and insulated from the din of rush hour by trees older than the city sits one of the West End’s crown jewels, the High Park Club.

Inside this hundred-year-old hideaway on Indian Road, five sheets of pristine ice are covered in weeknight curlers. To the left of the ice, there’s a fireside bar decorated with beer taps and spirit bottles and crowded with High Parkers.

Here, by the fire, I catch up with the skip from High Park, who has just returned from leading her rink to bronze at the Travelers Nationals, the annual amateur Club Championship, held this year in Kingston.

“They made us feel like rock stars,” she says of the hosting rink, the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club. “On the first night, they presented us with our Team Ontario jackets. That was a pretty special moment.”

But it’s the High Park jacket, the one their club gave them after a fundraiser to help her team on its way in Kingston, that they’re proudest of. McCutcheon, along with Third Kris Wannan, Second Kelly Williams and Lead Susan Chen, wore it on all the stops during the tournament in Kingston (which included a scavenger hunt downtown and a karaoke night).

“Competitive curling can be both physically and mentally demanding – except maybe for the skip,” McCutcheon says jokingly, quick to downplay her role.

 
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“At the end of the day, it was nice to sit around with other women from across the country and talk about our lives, how we started curling and about our families.”

Hers is full of curlers. Jody, a third-generation curler from Red Rock, Ont., met her husband at the University of Waterloo while the two were both curling Varsity. After graduating, they moved to Toronto, her husband’s hometown – where his mother and grandfather attended Humberside Collegiate, just north of the High Park Club – and raised two daughters and a son, all of whom are avid curlers. Her son John, a fourth-generation Humbersider, is on the school team.

In addition to its bronze at the Nationals, Team McCutcheon brought home $5,000 for High Park’s youth curling program, as the event’s top fundraising team.

“We’re a five-sheet club and we always fill them with at least five or six kids per sheet for junior drills. And we have a little rock program with more kids involved.”

When asked what the club means to her, she needs a moment.

“The club” – her voice breaks noticeably on the word – “feels like home.” She takes another moment to compose herself, before continuing,

“Yeah, it’s home. And it means a lot.”

Her love for the club, and her team, pushes her. McCutcheon isn’t satisfied with the bronze she just brought home from the Nationals, or the silver Team McCutcheon won at the 2011 Nationals, losing to rivals Manitoba.

“This club is so hard to get out of. We didn’t even win the club championship last year; Kelly Cochrane’s rink won. But Kelly couldn’t make it to Kingston in November, so the club sent us to Provincials,” held in Niagara Falls in October, where they beat Halifax with a last-shot draw.

It’s worth mentioning that Cochrane’s rink brought gold home for High Park from the 2009 Nationals.

McCutcheon wants one, too.

“I want to get back to Provincials and with these girls. And if we could just beat Manitoba.”

 

This story series was paid for by Lassonde, to highlight the accomplishments of local athletes. The company had no input on the content of the article.

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