Joy is in journey for Bernard

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

CALGARY -- It wasn't that long ago that curling was about one winter, not an Olympic quadrennial.

Get a team together, play in a local league, enter the playdowns and a couple of car spiels, fridge spiels, cash spiels, etc., and see what happens.

But that was before they put five rings around it and invented the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings and young curlers were taking up the sport knowing they could become an actual Olympian and wear a gold medal around their necks.

Many athletes aspire to become Olympians and the thing those who succeed and those who fail have in common is the journey. When it's all over, it's the journey they treasure most.

It's the journey Calgary's Cheryl Bernard talks about most as she prepares to bring her team to Edmonton and the Olympic trials tournament which begins next weekend.

"The last four years have been a lot of work but the trip has been great," said the Calgary skip.

"We took four players and our coach and focused on getting to the 2009 trials and accomplishing that goal."

Sounds easy enough. But it isn't.

"It's a juggling act with family, jobs and just life," said the four-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts qualifier dating back to 1992.

"We've had marriage, moves, illness, change of careers and injuries. But through all of that none of us took our eye off of what our goal was when we started."

It's all about respect, she says.

"I have the utmost respect for what each one of our team members has done. That respect is felt amongst all of us. It's that respect which will help us achieve our next goal, whether that be representing Canada at the Olympics or the next world championships."

"Dennis Balderston has been our coach and manager for many years. He is one of us and deserves this moment.

"Cori Bartel is the lead who taught the 'A' personalities on our team how to laugh a little, how to maybe not take things as seriously as we tend to do and how to cheer for the Saskatchewan Roughriders when Calgary is out of the running.

"Carolyn Darbyshire-McRorie, our second, is the only mother on our team and we all marvel at how she juggles curling and raising a family. When the rest of us can go home and have some down time, she goes home and runs kids to school, to swimming, makes lunches and reads bedtime stories. She hardly ever misses a day of throwing or practice. She has given everything she has to compete at these trials and we all appreciate at what cost.

"Susan O'Conner is our third who has a natural talent and loves the game probably more than any other player we know. She is one of those special people that takes time to get to know but once you do is a true friend and true competitor.

"We are a team in the truest sense of the word and right now we gotta believe and trust all the work and enjoy the ride. This is a great event and we are going to love every moment of it."

Put it all together, go hard for four years, pick up Edmonton-area alternate Kristie Moore and then point the van north next week and you have one of the top teams in the tournament with as good a chance as anybody else to get to Vancouver 2010.

"Going to Edmonton? Wow, we cannot wait. It will be a great, great show.

"The venue and the crowds will be great.

"It's just more support. The crowds, especially Alberta crowds are knowledgeable, love the game and love to cheer for great shots.

"There will be some amazing shot making and the team that gets hot and holds it together for the week and has a little fun along the way will win it. Can't get much more simple than that."

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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