March 6, 2012
Koe dad proud of curling brood
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
Fred Koe was hoping they'd play Thursday instead of Wednesday.
"That's my 65th birthday," he said.
But it's Koe vs. Koe Wednesday morning at the Brier.
That's 6-1 Kevin Koe of Alberta versus 5-2 Jamie Koe of the Territories.
No. 1 son versus No. 2 son at sunrise.
"This has been my dream year," said Fred, the man who started his kids curling in Inuvik and coached his daughter Kerry Galusha to a 4-7 record for the Territories at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts already this year in Red Deer.
"I always dreamed of the five of us all winning championships. My wife and I were going for the senior women's and senior men's. And I always dreamed that one day all three of the kids would play together in the mixed," said Fred.
"But to coach my daughter at the Scotties and to see my two boys on top of the leader board at this stage of the Brier, that's something."
Fred has been wearing his special jacket here all week.
It features about a dozen polar bears on each arm and ‘Alberta' stitched on the front.
"I found it on the rack in Yellowknife," he said.
"The polar bears were already on the arms. I had ‘Alberta' printed on," he laughed.
Fred, who sat at the table directly behind the house at the home end at the Scotties, has been sitting high in the corner of Credit Union Place, while the rest of the parents of the players on the two teams sit in the lower bowl, surrounded by friends and family.
"Linda and her friends are at another spot. I like sitting by myself," said Fred.
Wife Linda, a nurse from Saskatchewan who heard the call of the North and met her husband in Inuvik in the late ‘60s, is surrounded by a lot of friends from her nursing days here, making this a reunion of sorts.
Fred took accounting courses in Edmonton for a couple of years early in their marriage. Kevin was a New Year's baby born in Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital in 1975. They later moved back north where Jamie and Kerry were born two years later.
Fred became the president of the Inuvik Curling Club.
"Also the head ice maker," he laughed of the duties involved in keeping the three-sheeter going.
"Kevin started spending a lot of time at the rink when he was eight or nine. All our kids were my ice-makers.
"When Kevin was little he wanted to throw the rocks but first he had to scrape, shave and pebble the ice with me," remembers Fred, who said he has a photo in his head of the three Koe kids that he sees when he closes his eyes.
"We were in Inuvik flooding ice. We we all holding hose flooding the ice. It was minus 40 degrees outside and minus 45 degrees inside. Natural ice," he said.
For the second Brier in the last three years, he will be watching their sons play each other.
Kevin beat Jamie 8-3 at Halifax 2010.
They weren't at the top of the tables together that year. Kevin ended up 8-3 in the standings as well but became the first team to ever come out of the 3-4 game and win the Brier, going on to Cortina, Italy and winning the world championships as well.
Jamie finished dead last at 1-10.
This year Jamie has already knocked off Glenn Howard of Ontario and Brad Gushue of Newfoundland, teams he'd never managed to beat before.
"Jamie is playing very well," said dad Fred.
"He's got his draw weight and he's making a lot of freezes to stay in the game and big shots when he's had to. This year he really seems prepared.
"He has Terry Shea as his coach. He's also the ice maker. And a big difference, I think, is that he's prepared a sheet for Jamie in Yellowknife like Kevin Martin prepares a sheet in Edmonton before he comes to an event — a sheet with a lot of swing, like arena ice."
"You know, I think Pat Simmons was an awesome pick-up," he said of the former Saskatchewan skip moving to third along with the all-Edmonton front end of Carter Rycroft and Nolan Thiessen.
"Obviously they've been curling great."
Fred said when they played in Halifax he didn't have a problem with the game.
"I just cheered for every good shot."
He said it's going to have to be like that the day before his 65th birthday, too.
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