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Inuvik curler balances sport with life
Competing at a national level ain't easy when one lives 1,300 km away from teammates

Samantha Stokell
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, April 21, 2011

INUVIK - A national-level athlete walks among us, one who spends every other weekend of the winter months on the road, still volunteers in the community and holds down a full-time job.

 NNSL photo/graphic

Shona Barbour manages to volunteer her time at the Inuvik Curling Club, hold down a full-time job and curl at a national level while the rest of her team lives in Yellowknife. Here, she curls at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in February, her fourth time at the tournament. - photo courtesy of Shona Barbour

Shona Barbour, originally from Yellowknife but who has lived in Inuvik for six years, works as an early childhood consultant for the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. She has also curled four times at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with Team NWT.

"The Scotties is huge," Barbour said. "Even though I've been there before, the second you walk into the arena, you get goosebumps. The best part of the week is walking through it for the first time."

Barbour competed at the Scotties, held in February this year in Charlottetown, P.E.I., with her teammates skip Kerry Galusha, third Dawn "Dawny Mo" Moses and second Wendy Miller. Despite living more than 1,000 km away from her teammates in Yellowknife, Barbour stays dedicated to her sport.

From September to February, Barbour exercises at the gym every morning before work, throws rocks by herself each day at lunch and then practises with a league each night. She also coaches beginner curlers with the Inuvik club and a junior competitive team, studies sports psychology and competes on the World Curling Tour.

"I do it because I love the game," Barbour said. "I love stepping on the ice and competing. I definitely have a competitive edge."

Some days the distance from her teammates is a challenge, especially when it's -40 C and dark outside and her teammates are far, far away, she said.

This commitment to curling alongside her day job is typical for curlers who compete at a national level, she said, since there is no such thing as a professional curler.

"Everyone needs to keep their full-time day job," she said. "I'm grateful to be in an office that lets me continue this. But I get to travel around during the season and I don't think many adults get to do that."

The 2010/11 season ended with three wins and eight losses at the Scotties, not bad for a team from the North, but still somewhat disappointing. Barbour's future goal for the team is to make the playoffs at the Scotties.

In 2009, Barbour's team made history when it beat Jennifer Jones's Team Canada, the first time a team from the North had defeated the defending champions. It's moments like these that keep Barbour coming back.

"You have a huge respect for the teams, but you have to think you're going to win," Barbour said. "You know the teams are beatable. These are people we've played against since we were juniors."

At this time of year, with the rush of the Scotties ended, the teammates catch up with family and friends and take stock of what they want to do next. Barbour knows she wants to continue playing and thinks the team is starting to work together now. Barbour and Galusha have played together for 15 years, but the other two teammates have joined them in recent years including Miller, a rookie to the national and world circuit.

"Our rookie isn't a rookie anymore," Barbour said. "The teams that have success are the teams that have stuck together. We'll continue to work to compete with the big teams and keep making changes so we can compete with the best."

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