Weight on Hearts

Joelle Brown is skipping a team at the Tournament of Hearts provincial women's curling...

Joelle Brown is skipping a team at the Tournament of Hearts provincial women's curling championship, beginning Wednesday in Altona. (MARCEL CRETAIN/Winnipeg Sun files)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

There will be many players facing a myriad of challenges at the provincial women’s curling championship in Altona, beginning Wednesday.

But they’ll all pale in comparison to the challenge being faced by Fort Rouge skip, Joelle Brown, who goes into the event with a LiveStrong bracelet on her wrist and a weight on her heart.

Brown will lead her eighth-seeded team into the event despite losing her partner, fellow curler Pat Spiring, to cancer last week.

“There are some people very surprised to see me, actually,” Brown said after a practice in Altona, Tuesday. “We’re going to have some fun, and we’re going to play the game we love, and that’s what we’re going to concentrate on.”

It turns out Brown didn’t really have a choice but to play.

Spiring made it clear what she should do.

“Pat told me I had to come,” she said. “He told me I needed to go and curl. It was a bit of a tough decision, but he was very big on, ‘You’ve just got to put one foot in front of the other, and deal with stuff.’ It’s all going to be difficult to do. It was difficult even being on the ice the first time.”

Her teammates — Tracey Lavery, Lesle Cafferty, Jennifer Cawson and fifth Ainsley Champagne — welcomed her with open arms.

“All the girls said, ‘We just want you out there. We miss you. Please come.’ ”

This will be Brown’s ninth appearance at the event.

She’ll open competition against Kelly Wiwcharuk of Snow Lake Wednesday morning, followed by an afternoon game against Brette Richards of Assiniboine-Memorial.

The top seed is fellow Fort Rouge rink Cathy Overton-Clapham, whom Brown will take on Friday.

Brown has previously made it as far as provincial final, but simply getting through the bonspiel is her main goal, this time.

“I don’t exactly know how many games I’m going to play, or what the result will be,” she said. “It’s not that I don’t care, but it’s a different feeling now, for sure. Not to have zero expectations, but our expectations I guess need to change a little bit.”


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