Until real life caught up to her, Heather Nedohin had led a charmed curling life.
She’s been on the national and international stages five straight years.
It’s been a dozen seasons since, as a rookie women’s skip, she represented Alberta at the Scotties.
After losing two Alberta finals in three previous tries, she’s back and she couldn’t be happier.
“To get back to the Show, I can’t tell you how excited I am,” said Nedohin, back in the city where she started her first run, skipping the 1996 world junior champion. “I can’t wait to see the traditions, I can’t wait to see the changes I’ve heard that have occurred at the Scotties.
“It’s going to be fun.”
Her third, Beth Iskiw, and lead Laine Peters have already played at the Red Deer Centrium, where they wore Nova Scotia colours at the 2004 Scotties.
They’re used to the grind on the cashspiel circuit.
“We never go the easy route,” said Nedohin, who’s recruited veteran Amy Nixon as fifth. “Physically, we’re used to the grind. Mentally, no, you’re not used to however many days it is. It’s huge that we have three players that can provide Jess (second Jessica Mair) with veteran experience.
“Honestly, I can remember my first Scotties (as third for Cathy King in 1997). You’re oblivious and you just go out and play.”
Nedohin knows what it’s like to wear the Team Canada colours after helping King win the 1998 Scotties, the only time Alberta has won this event since 1982. She felt the heartbreak of losing the 1999 final to Colleen Jones.
“I’d like to finish off what we did in ’99, but ultimately our goal is to finish in the playoffs,” said Nedohin, who missed the playoffs by one game in 2000. “It stinks to not make the playoffs.”
When Iskiw moved to Edmonton, she and Nedohin found an instant connection. They were both young moms who had to sacrifice a lot to curl.
This is the fifth season the back end has been together and their climb to the top of a competitive Alberta field has been pretty rewarding.
Way back a dozen years ago, Nedohin was in a different headspace.
“In that transition of 12 years, I went after my career,” said Nedohin “For six years, I worked at Grant MacEwan College. As a female and wanting to persevere in my career rather than my aspirations as a curler, my career moved in the forefront.”
Then she met and married Dave Nedohin and the couple started a family. It was his turn in the spotlight.
“As a woman in sport, it’s very challenging to balance it all,” said Nedohin. “The bonus is I continued to play. Curling is my passion, it’s my workout, it’s something for me. In that 12 years of being absent from the big show, I still played.
“Playing while your kids are in diapers, playing while you’re breastfeeding. As a player, I remember going to a high performance camp and them stressing you get eight-10 hours sleep a night.
“I remember Jan Betker saying, ‘Ere you kidding me? When’s the last time a mother had eight hours’ sleep?’ ”
Now that Nedohin’s kids are in Grade 4 and Grade 1, she can sneak off for a workout and a practice without her kids.
“We’re balancing so much,” said Nedohin. “I look at Beth and I, the two mothers on the team. To get to an hour’s practice takes us two hours to get out the door. It’s very challenging, but we do it because we love it.
“When I look at my 12 years, I don’t look at it as an absence. It’s a matter of my family of being my No. 1 priority.”
You can hear it in her voice. Nedohin has been waiting a long time for this week. It’s a chance to get back to where she once belonged.
1996: skip, world junior champion
1997: third, Team Alberta
1998: third, Scotties champion
1999: third, Team Canada
2000: skip, Team Alberta
2012: skip, Team Alberta