The twelve teams competing in the 2024 Morden Scotties Tournament of Hearts were piped into the transformed arena by Bagpiper Chris Flook to start the Opening Ceremony Wednesday evening, after a full day of game play on the ice.
The singing of the National Anthem by Robin Epp and speeches by dignitaries and organizers and of course, complete with Linda Doerksen paid the piper were facilitated by Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame and Museum Resby Coutts reading the names of each team member.
Chair of the Host Committee Ernie Epp told the crowd everyone had a way to contribute to the event, whether they were there to cheer, volunteer or compete. He encouraged everyone to enjoy the experience, to make memories and to have fun.
He noted seeing all twelve teams together and the talent on the ice made all the time he put into making the event happen, well worth it.
Epp said when it came time to select those who would take part in the throwing of the ceremonial rock, 3 names came to mind very quickly.
Morden Special Constable Pam Goertzen (Sweeper) shared her love for curling and her recent representation at a world event.
"I've been curling since I was 11. I started in Manitou and since moving to Morden, I've curled with the Morden Ladies League and last year we were able to put a team together and curl in the World Police and Fire Games that was held in Winnipeg, which was very exciting. So, being asked to curl on this team with these amazing ladies was very thrilling and I was very excited to take part, especially because some of the ladies who are on the team have such a great history and a long history with curling in Manitoba."
Morden's Cindy Maddock (Broom Holder) has also grown-up curling. She is an Honourary Life member of Curling Manitoba, and was inducted into the Curling Manitoba Hall of Fame in 2018 in the Building category. She has also volunteered locally, provincially and nationally. She is a seven-time provincial competitor and has served the sport in many ways.
She shared what being on this team meant to her.
"I think it's great that the local community is hosting this event. They've done a really good job of emphasizing women and women and they're curling. So, it's great to be part of this team. We come from all different areas. My personal involvement locally was at the club, then provincially as Curl Manitoba President, and then one of the Board of Governors with Curling Manitoba, I also sat with Sandra Schmirler Board, but it all comes right back to the local curling and the love of the sport."
Rock Thrower Lynn Sandercock has competed in more curling championships than any other woman in Manitoba curling history. She has played in 50 championships. She is a 3-time Manitoba Champion. She is currently a member of the Morden Curling Club Board.
Sandercock was born and raised in Morden and with the sport.
"I watched my mom and dad curl and then I started myself. I went through all the competitive levels Junior, Ladies, Mixed, Seniors and Masters and a bit of Canada Games. I'm such a competitive person and I've always had a quest to get that Buffalo on my back and I've been fortunate enough to do it three times and I really don't want to give up trying."
Being chosen to throw the rock has a special meaning to Sandercock.
"I was saying to Cindy, that's kind of special too, because I think my mom actually threw the first rock at one of the Scotties that we hosted a while back and my dad threw at one of the men's. It's kind of neat."
Representing the future of curling was high school student, Lauren Weselak whose team recently won the High School Zone Championship.
She expressed her feelings of being chosen to sweep for the opening ceremony.
"It was a real privilege to be able to come and be part of the opening ceremonies with these ladies. I definitely didn't expect it and it's really sweet to meet them."
She said her team had experienced some challenges to win Zones recently and shared the secret to overcoming them.
"Definitely the support from my teammates, as well as not giving a face to the opponent. It's just eight rocks and I think that's really what got us through zones."
After Weselak said this, a great conversation about curling started with her three opening ceremony teammates leaning in and sharing their own thoughts and experiences.
Whether it was on or off the ice, curling has transcended the test of time, with many generations coming together for the love of the game.
Epp noted he has had so much fun already and it is only Day One, he can't even imagine how he will feel on Sunday at the finals.