We’re starting today’s lesson with a definition.
hu·bris /ˈ(h)yo͞obrəs/ noun, excessive pride or self-confidence.
Now some backstory. I used to be a pretty good curler. Back in the day, I played on the Manitoba tour, won a couple of trophies in the world’s biggest bonspiel, the MCA, and even played a year at the Saville Super League in Edmonton. But I never played in a provincial playdown and never won an event in an MCT.
We came close to qualifying a few times, but it just never happened. I used to practice every lunch hour at the Granite in Winnipeg, and I’d get in 32 rocks per session. I did delivery analysis with Connie Laliberte using lasers and video. I spoke with some of the top players on the mental side of the game. I did all of the right things.
In the end, controlling the grey mass between the ears was the biggest challenge for me. I had a terrible time handling the big-game pressure. The best players in the world thrive when the lights brighten, whereas I tended to wilt under the heat. That combined with a shoulder injury from years of intense sweeping (yes, that’s a thing, smartypants) led me to bury the Teflon shoe in the backyard four years ago.
Fast forward to my arrival in Vernon this spring. Something told me to get back on the horse and see if things could be different after time away. I called up Merk (Dave Merklinger) and asked if there were any teams looking for a player. As luck would have it, there were three guys all individually looking for a team. I joined on as the skip and off we went — team Duct Tape.
We’ve had some amazing games so far this season, and have had many tilts go to the last rock. Despite that, we’ve only chalked up one win. Still, I’ve had a blast. The league is competitive but laid back, which is a rare combination.
This week’s game was a particularly graphic example of the fickleness of sport and the dangers of confidence.
We came out of the gate firing on all pistons. We made stellar team shots — two hit and rolls behind cover that required the perfect weight, line call and sweep. I even made back to back five-point guards. Gliding back after scoring four in the second, my stupid brain decided to queer the deal in a split second.
Stupid Brain: You’re actually a good curler.
Smart Brain: Now why would you say that? Are you serious right now?
Stupid Brain: You should call Jim Cotter and have him drop his third so you can join him.
Smart Brain: Wow. Even for you, that’s a massive dose of stupid.
Sure enough, I ended up throwing successive shots that actually helped the opposition steal four and score three in future ends. It was intensely frustrating to watch my shots chip off of guards and send their rocks in for second and third shot.
Unlike my Mark Messier persona from the old days, I was able to laugh this off and still enjoy the game.
I may have some saddle sores but the horse trot feels rather natural.
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