Jaelyn Cotter (left) and Katelyn McGillivray get together in a warm-up slide out of the hacks at Vernon Curling Club on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (John K. White/Morning Star)

Home, sweet home for Vernon provincial curling reps

Focus will shift from personal improvement to lifting the team dynamic.

After qualifying for the 2019 BC Junior Curling Championships last weekend through the junior regional playdowns at the Osoyoos Curling Club, Vernon’s Team McGillivray is too busy with exams to be worried about the provincials just yet.

And that’s a good thing.

Megan McGillivray, Jaelyn Cotter, Katelyn McGillivray and Cassidy Schwaerzle went undefeated during the regionals, but they’re now in the heat of exam season which presents a welcome distraction. They won’t stop practising, but they also won’t be obsessing about the coming competition.

Want proof of the exam crush? Skip Megan McGillivray had to miss the interview session because of an exam.

“I think it helps me. After exams finish, right before provincials, I let go of all my school and I’m not worrying about school at all because it’s all done for the semester, and then it’s just curling for two weeks,” Schwaerzle said.

While the team will keep their practice regimen up doing the time leading up to the provincials, their focus will shift from personal improvement to lifting the team dynamic.

RELATED: Vernon to host at BC Juniors after regional wins

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“We start focusing on what we need to work on individually and as a team,” said Cotter.

“Throughout the season we work a lot on releases and now it’s focused more on working as a team and building those team shots,” said Schwaerzle.

“We have a super tight team bond and we know each others’ tendencies and just how hard we’ve worked together,” said Katelyn McGillivray. “Throughout these three years, we’ve definitely built the strongest bond.”

That strong bond is key when the glare of the lights and the heat of pressure build at big events.

“We know how to pick each other up. When one person is down we’ve learned how to encourage each other and bring each other up,” said Schwaerzle.

“Katelyn’s our clumsy one so she’s falling all the time so we always get a good kick out of her falls,” Schwaerzle said with a chuckle. “I relax because I know they’ve got my back at all times. Maybe I slip up and I miss but I know Katelyn’s going to come next and save my butt. I can relax a little more knowing it’s not just me.”

“In games that super stressful, that’s when we rise to the occasion,” Katelyn McGillivray noted. “Knowing how hard we’ve trained for this and how hard we’ve practised for this really helps.”

Team McGillivray will enjoy the bonus of hosting the provincials this time out so “home-ice advantage” is a very real thing.

“It’s just comfortable for us,” Cotter said. “We’re in our home area, we have lots of friends and family that will be here to support us. We curl here all of the time. It’s knowing that we’re in a place where we feel comfortable.”

Three other junior women’s teams earned berths to the provincials via the Coastal and Northern playdowns.

The complete list of teams that have qualified so far for the BC Junior Women’s Curling Championship is as follows:

– Team Daniels (BC Junior Curling Tour)

– Team Reese-Hansen (BC Junior Curling Tour)

– Team Drexel (Coastal playdown)

– Team Taylor (Coastal playdown)

– Team McGillivray (Thompson Okanagan playdown)

– Team Guidos (Northern playdown)

The 2019 BC Junior Curling Championships will take place Dec. 27 to Jan. 1 at Vernon Curling Club.

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