U.S. coach, skip could hear boos

GREG Di CRESCE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 6:41 AM ET

He\'s coming home expecting to get booed.

And Wally Henry, the coach of the USA women\'s curling team, doesn\'t expect his daughter, U.S. skip Debbie McCormick, to receive any warmer of a welcome at the 2003 world curling championships in Winnipeg from April 5-13.

\"We\'re not expecting too much support, given the current political situation. When we\'re introduced, we\'re probably going to get quite a few boos,\" said Henry, who grew up on a farm near Treherne.

\"Look, I\'ll tell them to just be prepared for it and that it was not our team\'s decision to go to war,\" Henry said during a telephone interview from his home in Madison, Wis., yesterday. \"We\'re representing the U.S. in a sport and have to focus on that and not on what\'s happening overseas.\"

He wasn\'t sure if the team -- skip McCormick (born in Saskatoon) and third Allison Pottinger (born in Brampton, Ont.,) along with second Ann Swisshelm-Silver and lead Tracy Sachtjen -- will be sporting anything on their on-ice uniforms to honour the American servicemen and women in Iraq, but said he wouldn\'t be surprised if they did.

That said, Henry was aware of Canada\'s decision not to support the war without U.N. backing and wasn\'t wholly unsympathetic to it.

\"Even though I\'m living in the United States I\'m very much a Canadian and I understand the Canadian view of this war,\" he said. \"There is nothing we can do about it here as far as our team is concerned. So, we\'re just not expecting too much patriotism when our teams (men and women) are being introduced.\"

Still, Henry doesn\'t expect it to be all raspberries.

\"(The jeers) will probably amount to a little distraction.

\"However, the team is going to have quite a few fans in Winnipeg Arena, from family and friends to a small contingent from the U.S., who will be on hand to support them throughout the championships,\" he said. \"Plus, Winnipeg\'s just an ideal place to have the world championships. It\'s fantastic there.\"

Henry ought to know.

As a member of the American curling team, Henry won a bronze for the Red, White and Blue in 1991, the last time Winnipeg hosted the worlds.

THRILL TO RETURN

\"I grew up close to Winnipeg, did all my shopping there, and know Winnipeg like the back of my hand. I also did all my competitive high school curling there,\" he said. \"It was a thrill to return in 1991, just as it\'s a thrill to return again this time to watch my daughter curl.\"

Skip McCormick, 29, who moved from Canada to Wisconsin at age 4 has played in two Winter Olympics for the States. She was third for skip Kari Erickson in 2002 (6-5 in Ogden) and second for skip Lisa Schoeneberg in 1998 (2-5 in Karuizawa).

She\'s also played third for the U.S., in the 2001 worlds (5-4 in Lausanne) and alternate for skip Lisa Schoeneberg in 1996 (8-3 in Hamilton, silver medal).

McCormick boasts an extensive junior resume, too, having played in four world juniors.


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