Morris stickin' around

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

No, Ontario. You can't have him back.

One of the pains of being popular is having the rumour mill generating and the John Morris curling rink is no exception.

The skip, who moved to Cowtown from Ottawa two years ago, could either be off to attend teachers' college in Central Canada or taking over a position on the Kevin Martin rink in Edmonton.

None of it is true, he said yesterday -- sort of.

"I'm 27 and I've put a lot of time into curling," said Morris, still exasperated from losing the Kia Cup Alberta semifinal 7-5 Sunday morning to Martin, who heads to the Tim Hortons Brier next month after beating Mark Johnson 7-5 in the final.

"I want a career and to raise family. That's important to me and I'd like to do that before I get too old. I've sacrificed a lot. I've put a career on hold, because it's tough to take off on a Tuesday or Wednesday with any employer I know."

So, yes, he applied to a teachers' college in Ontario.

But more likely he'll be sticking with his other career choice, firefighting, for which he's taking courses in Vermilion, Alta., this summer.

"The certification will deem me eligible for any department out there," he said. "Preferably, I'd like to stay around Calgary. I've been here for two years and it feels comfortable to me now."

One thing's for sure. Morris, third Kevin Koe and second Marc Kennedy will be looking for a new lead. Paul Moffatt is the one definitely moving back to Ontario.

"Yeah, that's a done deal," said Morris. "He's put his life on hold for the last couple of years to curl at an elite level. He's dating a great girl back in Ontario and it's tough on a relationship.

"I know. It didn't work out between me and one girlfriend because I curl so much."

Filling Moffatt's shoes will be tough, Morris admitted, but there's still much work to do.

The rink has three big spiels remaining on its schedule: the Masters in St. John's, N.L., March 23-26; the Bear Mountain Arena Classic in Victoria, B.C., April 6-9; and the Players Championship at the Stampede Corral in Calgary, April 12-16.

Morris can't wait for the Players Championship, especially after seeing crowds of fewer than 1,000 watching Martin win the provincial championship at the Saville Centre in Edmonton on the weekend.

"I challenge Calgary to do better than that," said Morris. "We'll have the top men's and women's teams in our city and that's a major attraction. This is going to be a better curling show as far as skill, shot-making and games than a Brier."

It would also be 'nice' for Morris to get back to winning, which he did at the PC in 2004, taking Martin for a 7-6 ride.

Morris hasn't won anything big since.

"It gets frustrating when you feel like you're playing well and you know you're one of the top teams in the world but you never seem to get that big W," said the two-time world junior champ.

"I know we've had a great year and I'm proud of our team. But, yeah, it gets frustrating. We were close at the Olympic trials, close at provincials, close at Canada Cup, close at one slam but close doesn't really cut it when you want to be the best in the world."

Koe is looking at the positive side, especially the three consecutive victories they've had against the mighty Ferbey rink, knocking the defending world champs out of the provincials in the Page playoffs Saturday night.

"We finally put together a good year," Koe said. "We've had high expectations for this team but this year, I think we've really taken a step. Every event we go in, we're thought of as the favourites and we've done well. Making semis or finals is no small feat."

And Morris, who said he feels fortunate to curl at an elite level with good friends, has set the bar high for the future.

"I want to maintain my curling dream. I would love to represent Canada and win gold at the next Olympics in Vancouver," he said. "I can't really see myself moving back to Ontario unless something really strange happened, especially when we've had such a good year of curling.

"I'm not going to give up that easily."


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