The mouth that roared

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

SOURIS -- Heather Mowat has a problem when she curls, and it has nothing to do with her delivery or how she sweeps.

It's her penchant for dirty words that raises eyebrows.

When her Brandon rink, which is skipped by Liza Park, was on its way to winning the Manitoba Curling Tour Championship two weeks ago, Mowat and second Rhonda Ritchie were on top of a rock while Park and third Jaimie Coxworth argued over whether or not the duo should sweep it.

The shot missed its mark, so Mowat let off some steam.

"I just looked up at Jamie and said, 'What the f--- was that?' And I said it loud enough for both of the teams on either side of us to hear it," Mowat said yesterday.

Mowat admits that she feels a little out of her element this week as she competes in the Scott Tournament of Hearts provincial women's curling championship at Murray Arena.

Mowat, you see, spends most of her time around men and criminals as an officer with the Brandon Police Service.

Swearing is part of life when you work with men and deal with criminals. That's how she talks at work, and she has no interest in working anywhere else.

"It's what I always wanted to do," said the 28-year-old, a native Winnipegger who grew up in North Kildonan. "I knew from really early on that this is what I wanted to do."

There's only one problem: The transformation from female police officer to female curler takes time and is never totally achieved.

"I'm used to working with guys all the time," she said, "and I have to really get my head into it with these (women) because I forget what I say."

She may look it, but Mowat isn't like most women competing in Souris this week. One look at her resume makes that easy to see.

After graduating from university, she became a peace officer in Winnipeg. In the winter she worked at the Main Street Project's drunk tank, and in the summer she patrolled the city's rivers, pulling bodies out of the Assiniboine and the Red.

"I live a different life, obviously," said Mowat, who won the Manitoba mixed championship in 1996 with Chad McMullan. "I'm not the most feminine person, for sure."

Then she spent two years in paramedic communications, where she would talk people through medical emergencies until an ambulance arrived.

"I delivered a baby within the first two months I was there," she said. "Then there was another one a couple months later."

The Brandon Police Service hired her in September 2003 and she trained until January 2004. On Sunday, she celebrated her one-year anniversary with the BPS.

She's also hoping to celebrate one year on Park's rink with a provincial championship this weekend. They got off to a great start yesterday with a 7-5 win over Springfield's Karen Young and an 8-5 triumph over Starbuck's Chris Scalena.

"These guys are pretty forgiving," Mowat said of her rinkmates. "There's a lot of people that wouldn't put up with my attitude or whatever, but I think they like the intensity, and they know it's not personal, which is really important.

"Besides, they think I'm weird, anyway."


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