Jeremy Fraser (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published: Dec 08 at 12:00 p.m.
Kim Kelly remembers winning her first Scotties Tournament of Hearts championship like it was yesterday.
Kelly was the third stone on the 1999 team, led by skip Colleen Jones, lead Nancy Delahunt, and second Mary-Anne Arsenault, that captured the Scotties tournament title in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
“We started out strong and in that final game I had that feeling where I couldn’t feel my feet,” said Kelly, a Dartmouth resident.
“I remember telling myself it was the same game and the same shots — nothing special — but it was almost surreal to win that year.”
The Nova Scotians advanced to the championship game with a 10-4 win over Manitoba, led by skip Connie Laliberte, before defeating Team Canada, skipped by Cathy Borst, 6-4, to take home the championship.
Growing up, Kelly’s father was in the military and the family moved from base to base and that’s where she found her passion for curling.
“Both my parents curled, and on the base there isn’t much to do, but there was always a curling club there,” said the 56-year-old Kelly.
“I was eight years old and I had to push the rock with both hands at the beginning because there were no little rocks at the time.”
Kelly first participated in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 1991 in Saskatoon, Sask., a moment she will never forget.
“The first rock I threw I fell down,” laughed Kelly. “It got better after that, but it was always a thrill and it’s a fantastic event to be part of.”
Kelly went on to compete in 16 Scotties Tournament of Hearts events, winning the tournament five times —2001 in Sudbury, 2002 in Brandon, 2003 in Kitchener and 2004 in Red Deer, to go along with her win in P.E.I.
“It’s addicting, so when you win it once, you know you want to do it again,” said Kelly. “I’ve enjoyed every single Scotties Tournament of Hearts and I’d come again if I could.”
Along with winning the Scotties titles, Kelly also has two gold medals from the world championships as well as single gold medals in the world senior championship, Canadian senior championship and the Canadian mixed championship.
She also won nine Nova Scotia women’s championships, along with two provincial senior women’s titles as well as a mixed championship.
Kelly’s success on the ice hasn’t gone unnoticed in the curling community. She was inducted into the Nova Scotia Curling Association hall of fame in 2009 and later the Curling Canada hall of fame in 2015.
During the course of her career, Kelly has played with and against some of the best women curlers in Canada but considers herself thankful to have had the opportunity to play with Jones.
“We have a great relationship and I’ve learned a ton from Colleen (Jones),” said Kelly. “We’ve spent so much time together — we’ve curled together since 1991 and we’re very good friends.”
Kelly, who still curls at Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax, was in Cape Breton on Nov. 14 for a Scotties Tournament of Hearts open house at Centre 200. As part of the open house, the Scotties tournament trophy was on display.
“The trophy only comes out on championship day and you are only able to touch it or be around it if you win, so it’s a surreal moment to have it on display,” said Kelly.
Local curling fans may have an opportunity to see Kelly in action at the 2019 Scotties tournament in Sydney.
She will be competing in the provincial tournament in January, with the winner securing a spot at the February event.
“I would say Mary-Anne Arsenault (her former teammate) is probably the favourite in Nova Scotia, simply because they won last year and were third in Canada and did so well,” said Kelly.
“I’d be thrilled to play here in Cape Breton. Both of my children are working here right now — Brett and Madison — so it would be a bit of a homecoming, even though it’s not home.”
Kelly believes having the Scotties tournament in a small community makes the event better.
“Cities like Ottawa and Edmonton are awesome cities, but there almost too big and I find the small communities are a lot of fun,” said Kelly.
“When we were in Charlottetown it was spectacular. It’s the same size arena as Centre 200, same size city, and the games were sold out — it’s like nothing else.”