Friday, February 22

"Now I Can Grieve"

Week ends in Heart-break

Murray McCormick, The Leader-Post
Published: Friday, February 22, 2008

It's over.

Michelle Englot's emotionally wrenching week as the hometown skip of Saskatchewan's team as the Canadian women's curling championship ended Thursday evening at the Brandt Centre with a 10-3 loss to Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink.

"In a sense, I'm glad that it is over," Englot said. "Now, I can grieve."

The defeat concluded seven days in the spotlight that no curler at the Scotties would have ever dreamed of having to endure. It started Feb. 15 when Joe Englot, Michelle's father, died of a heart attack at the family farm in Montmartre. He was 74.

Between then and last night, Englot played through her grief. She finished at 5-6 and won the support of a curling nation for the manner in which she dealt with totally unexpected adversity.

"It was the toughest week of my life but I made it through," Englot said before Thursday's late draw. "What is the song? 'What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger?'"

Englot, Darlene Kidd, Roberta Materi and Cindy Simmons were strong before the Scotties started. On Feb. 15, before Englot's world was shattered, they held a team meeting and were ready to toss rocks with some of the best teams in the country. It was Englot's sixth appearance at the Scotties and her first as a hometown skip. Englot's excitement about what lay ahead was noticeable.

"I really believe that had we played well and like we could, we could have won it," Englot said. "We know that we can beat the top teams. That was our goal before the beginning of the week."

The goal changed to surviving. Englot didn't miss an end while dealing with the death of her father. She only avoided one set of interviews Tuesday when she had to rush to Montmartre to attend the funeral service. Englot said she did consider stepping back and allowing alternate Lorie Kehler to fill in for her on Tuesday.

"We thought we had time to do everything and they had worked the funeral around my schedule," Englot said. "I was committed to playing the whole event."

She did all of the things that are required of a player at a national event. She had just one public breakdown -- Tuesday afternoon while being saluted with a standing ovation by the Brandt Centre crowd. Saskatchewan spent its badly needed bye attending the funeral. Englot returned to action Wednesday and lost both of her games to extend a losing streak to three games.

"I was emotionally drained (Wednesday)," Englot said. "Tuesday was a tough day. We didn't play well and it showed that I was drained. I did what I could and it wasn't enough."

Englot and Co. plan on remaining together for at least another year. After what it had been through this week, it would be shame to break up.

"They are some of my best friends and I can only believe this can make us closer as a team," Englot said.
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008