Joey Smith (email@example.com)
Published: Jan 11, 2019
TRURO — This year’s Canadian junior women’s curling championship holds special meaning for Karlee Burgess.
Karlee, the most decorated junior curler in Nova Scotia, will attend her sixth straight national Under-21 championship, Jan. 19 to 27 in Prince Albert, Sask.
The last time Prince Albert hosted a national junior competition was in 1987, when Karlee’s father Craig won the Canadian men’s title throwing second for Jim Sullivan’s rink out of Fredericton.
“It will bring a lot of good memories back for my dad and hopefully we can cap it off with a good week there,” said Karlee, 20, from Hilden. “It will be pretty emotional for my dad and I.”
Karlee throws second stones for the reigning national and world champion Kaitlyn Jones rink out of Halifax. Lauren Lenentine is the team’s third, while Karlee’s younger cousin Lindsey Burgess throws lead stones. The foursome earned its spot at nationals after winning provincials in late December in Halifax.
“Out of all the juniors — and there’s been some wonderful opportunities she’s had, and we’ve had some wonderful trips — it’s sort of something special when she’s going to the place where I played and won,” said Craig, who was named all-star second at the 1987 junior event.
“I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted her to go because it meant a lot to me to go back to Prince Albert.”
Craig and his family have travelled the world to support Karlee and have been to such far-off countries as Denmark, Scotland, Norway and South Korea. Craig said he has enjoyed every minute, but admits watching from the sidelines can be stressful at times.
“I treat myself a little bit different. I’m not one to sit and talk a lot and I don’t do a lot of pacing, but I do get nervous,” he said. “Anytime your kid’s competing you do get nervous as a parent no matter how many times you go. I would much rather be playing in the final game than sitting watching your kids go through that.”
The Jones foursome will have plenty of support at the national competition, as parents of all players plan on heading west, along with Karlee’s and Lindsey’s grandparents, Jim and Judy Burgess of Truro.
“All of them just being there makes the experience,” said Karlee, a third-year Dalhousie University student.
As a veteran curler who has enjoyed success at the highest levels, Craig can relate to the pressures and expectations that face Karlee.
He won the world junior championship with Sullivan in 1988 in West Germany, and also competed in four Canadian men’s Brier championships with a pair of runner-up finishes (1990, 2005) to his credit.
Indeed, his wealth of knowledge and insight for the game is valuable in the Burgess household, however, simply being a sounding board for his daughter is equally important, he said.
“She still asks some questions and we still have a chit-chat, but … I think she gets a lot of support from us just being there and having that, ‘good luck’ before the game, or hug after the game, or high five, or just a brief talk about how she played. And she likes to vent a little bit to us, which is good, you need to have that.
“But it’s always good to know that she’s open and willing to talk about anything to you about the sport. And she knows her family is very supportive of what she’s doing.”