Sara England has the blood of Saskatchewan curling royalty running through her veins and she’s looking to deliver a national championship to the province.
England and her team won the provincial junior women’s championship earlier this month, going undefeated, and earned a spot at the national tournament in Shawinigan, Que.
On Wednesday, the Callie Curling Club, Team England’s home rink, held a special send-off party for the team. The event included speeches from members of the curling community and a cake.
“It’s kind of finally setting in that we’re leaving, I guess the big moment is probably when we get into our hotels and open those boxes of green jackets,” said England.
Someone who England will be keeping in her thoughts while she is playing will be her mom, Saskatchewan curling great Sandra Schmirler.
Schmirler was an Olympic gold medallist and world champion when she played. She died in 2000.
England said while she keeps her mom in her thoughts while she plays, it doesn’t add any pressure on her.
“I feel like I want to do her proud but I know also no matter what I’m doing, she’s proud of me.”
Her father, Shannon England, sees some of Schmirler in Sara when she plays.
“A lot of what I see in Sara that reminds me of Sandra is her focus, especially this year, there was a lot of focus and determination,” Shannon said.
While England has played in the national tournament before, this is her first year as the team’s skip.
Her team will also have three players making their first trip to the big stage.
“Hopefully our coach and myself and our other player can help take those nerves away and just let them have as much fun as they possibly can out there.”
And nerves aren’t going to be the only thing her team has to overcome — her team’s coach fell and broke her wrist meaning she will be unable to travel with the team to the tournament.
Taking over as coach is Darrell Brandt, who found out he’d be taking over Wednesday afternoon.
“It might be a little overwhelming but with this group, it will be a lot of fun.”
Darrell’s daughter is a member of the team so he has been with them all year, helping coach at different points.
He said this team came together and want to win for each other rather than themselves which is what makes them so good.
The Canadian Junior Women’s Championship will take place Jan. 13-21.