Young skips make Juvenile debut at home

Curling: Stacked field at district playdowns in Okotoks

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 06:00 am

Okotoks skip Blake Johnson will be heading up one of four local rinks competing at the Juvenile districts this weekend at the Okotoks Curling Club.
Okotoks skip Blake Johnson will be heading up one of four local rinks competing at the Juvenile districts this weekend at the Okotoks Curling Club.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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Some burgeoning talents in the foothills curling community will be making their debut on the Juvenile stage on home ice this weekend.

Three young Okotoks teams and one from Black Diamond highlight the field at the Southern Alberta Curling Association’s Juvenile Districts, Jan. 17-19 at the Okotoks Curling Club.

“It’s pretty much the same group of guys we’ve curled with in all the other bonspiels so we know the competition,” said skip Blake Johnson, a Grade 10 student at Okotoks’ Foothills Composite High School. “But there are some teams there that have been together for a few years now and this is the first year we’ve been together, the four of us.”

The first-year rink, featuring Spencer Davidson at third, Jeremy Labossiere at second and Dale McMillan at lead, has provided early returns in their first season together reflected by Team Johnson’s qualification into the B-final of the Ray Kingsmith Junior Bonspiel during the holidays.

“We all enjoy playing with each other and we have fun on and off the ice,” said Johnson, 15. “We’re all the same age so we’re hoping to grow together as a team and stay together as long as we can.”

Okotokian Cailen Knopp’s first-year team, composed of Miki Becker at third, Aaron Brown at second and Jarod Kunz at lead, will make its debut at the Juvenile level on the weekend.

Knopp knows his squad will be in tough against the likes of Calgary’s Tyler Lautner, Airdrie’s Owen Goerzen and Nanton’s Colin Harty – all of whom are amongst the top teams competing up a level on the Alberta Junior Curling Tour.

“I’ve never competed in Juvenile playdowns. It’s going to be hard to play against them, but it will be a really good experience for us,” Knopp said. “I think we have a pretty good chance of making it.”

The team trains every week at the curling club as long-time members of the Okotoks Junior Curling Academy where they’ve learned how to read every nook and cranny on the eight sheets of their home rink.

“We will have a slight advantage knowing our weights and what to throw,” Knopp added. “Yeah, we’ll have an advantage with the ice.”

Team Kish, comprised of skip Hunter Kish, third James Ballance, second Mathew Bailey and lead Liam Shoenfelder will boast the same benefit as fellow Okotoks Junior Curling Academy members.

Rounding out the local contingent is Black Diamond’s Team Libbus with skip Jacob Libbus, Quinn Heffron at third, Justin Goheen at second and Pacen Anderson at lead. The team curls out of the Oilfields Curling Club.

The opening draw for the Juvenile districts is 11 a.m. on Friday.

To find the full list of draws go to and find the playdowns tab.


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