By Rebecca Kiriakopoulos
A crowd decked out in red and white filled the Ottawa Curling Club on Tuesday to send Rachel Homan and her team off to South Korea to represent Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
After winning the “Roar of the Rings” Canadian Olympic curling trials in hometown Ottawa in December, Team Homan — skip Rachel Homan and teammates Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney and Lisa Weagle — will head to host city Pyeongchang later this week. The historic O’Connor Street curling club held a send-off event on Jan. 30 to celebrate the women’s achievement and wish them well in South Korea.
Clapping and chants of “Go Canada Go!” filled the crowded space as more and more people poured into the club ahead of Tuesday evening’s gathering. Family and friends, members of the curling community and even Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson were there to send wish Team Homan good luck at the Winter Games.
“Regardless of the outcome, you’re Olympians and that is something incredible,” said Watson. “You’ve got an entire city and now an entire country rooting for you.”
However, becoming Olympians was not the only thing the girls were being honoured for last night. Club president Matthew Kellet announced that each member of the team had been named lifetime and distinguished members of the OCC.
If that wasn’t enough, Barclay Frost, co-chair of the Ottawa Sports Awards, showed up with another surprise. The 2017 awards gala — to be held the next night, and which the members of Team Homan had not planned to attend because of the curlers’ intense training schedule — was previewed with special advance presentations to Homan, Miskew, Weagle and Courtney.
“You’re important to the history of Ottawa and you’re moving forward and going to make more history,” Frost said to Homan while presenting her with the award for Ottawa’s 2017 female athlete of the year.
Team Homan also received collective recognition as the 2017 female team of the year — the seventh consecutive time a foursome led by Homan has received the honour, including years before Courtney and Weagle replaced former team members Lynn and Alison Kreviazuk.
Team Homan heads to the Olympics after a remarkable year of success, which included victory at the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts and the World Women’s Curling Championships in Beijing.
Homan spoke at the send-off event, stating that she and her teammates have a lot to thank the community for.
“To the city of Ottawa that we’re so proud to call home, everything that you guys have done has truly helped us get to that final and to be able to call ourselves Olympians — and for that I thank you so much,” Homan told the crowd.
“No matter what happens in Pyeongchang our team promises to enjoy and be grateful for every moment of this journey . . . to go in prepared and confident knowing we left no stone unturned. And we promise to remember our roots here in Ottawa and all that you guys have given us.”
Team Homan plays its first game of the Olympic tournament against Korea on Feb. 15.