In sports, you usually have to pay your dues before reaching the top.
Sure, winning can come easy for some. But great athletes and great teams usually point to a devastating loss (or losses) that, in hindsight, paved the way to a championship moment down the road.
In a lot of ways, the curling career of Rachel Homan has followed that blueprint. Lose a championship game. Train harder. Focus and prepare meticulously. Go back. Win the championship.
In 2007, when the Ottawa skip was trying to break through on the Ontario curling scene, she lost the provincial junior final. The next year, she lost it again. It wasn’t until her third trip, in 2009, that she finally won it… and then followed up with a loss in the Canadian junior championship final.
Homan reloaded again and got back to the national final the next year. This time, her team captured the title… and then lost to Sweden in the gold-medal final at the world junior championships.
You get the point.
Perhaps those losses, and the lessons learned from them, are why Homan has been able to cash in so often when it’s mattered most, on the big stage at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. She’s won the Canadian women’s championship three of the five times she’s played in it.
Homan, 28, and her relatively young team have quickly become one of the best rinks ever seen in Canada. But they haven’t done it all yet.
Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle are coming off their best season yet. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a better one.
In front of a friendly crowd in St. Catharines, Ont., the Ontario team captured the Scotties title in heart-stopping fashion. It took extra ends, a total team effort and a brilliant double take-out from Homan, but they defeated Michelle Englot’s Manitoba rink in one of the most exciting finals in memory.
“There were team shots in big moments that I’ll never forget,” Homan says of that game. “Yes, I threw that last rock, but I wouldn’t have made it without my teammates’ confidence in me.”
Homan agrees that all those devastating losses and missed shots earlier in her career helped her come through in the clutch.
“We’ve faced those circumstances over the years,” she says….