Friday, February 15

Third: Darlene Kidd

No Kidding around, she's in it for the green

Murray McCormick, The Leader-Post
Published: Friday, February 15, 2008

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts starts Saturday at the Brandt Centre with 11 of the country's provincial champions and Team Canada in Regina pursuing a Canadian women's curling championship.

Regina's Michelle Englot is the Saskatchewan representative. Englot, Darlene Kidd, Roberta Materi and Cindy Simmons have earned the right to be the hometown team in the championship.

Wednesday, The Leader-Post's Murray McCormick began a four-part series on each member of Englot's team with a profile of Simmons. On Thursday, it was Materi's turn. Today, Kidd is in the spotlight.

A lighthearted comment turned into a dream come true for Darlene Kidd.

In 2006, after Regina was awarded the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Kidd was talking to her father from her home in Brampton, Ont. Ron Kidd suggested that she get back to the Queen City soon because the 2008 Canadian women's curling championship was to be held at the Brandt Centre.

"In the back of my mind I knew it was joke," said Kidd. "It could also have been that he just missed me."

That nudge was just enough to push Kidd into a decision. In August, Kidd returned to Regina after spending seven years in Ontario working and curling. On Saturday, Kidd will join Regina skip Michelle Englot, second Roberta Materi and lead Cindy Simmons to comprise Team Saskatchewan in the Canadian championship.

A relocation to Regina made sense for Kidd, who grew up in Lumsden. Kidd had been commuting between Toronto and Regina for 18 months in two-week intervals to be with her 12-year-old son, Nick -- of whom Kidd and Jeff Gartner share custody. She quit her Toronto job as project manager with the Ontario Centre for Excellence in May and spent the summer enjoying cottage life in Ontario before moving West.

"That was something I wanted to do more than anything," said Kidd, 35. "I also wanted to come back to curl."

It didn't take long for Kidd to settle into her former life. She found work at the same firm she had been employed with before leaving for Ontario. She moved back into the same house and quickly connected with her former skip and second in Roberta Materi.

Kidd also had ties to Simmons because they shared in the 1990 Saskatchewan and Canadian junior women's curling titles. It has paid off in Kidd's first provincial women's title and an opportunity to participate in the Canadian women's championship while wearing Saskatchewan's colours.

"There isn't anything that beats green," said Kidd. "I went to the Roughriders games and I wanted to be on the Dream Team. Everything has always been green for me."

Kidd and Scott Bailey, who plays lead for Toronto's Wayne Middaugh, have been partners for eight years. Kidd watched Bailey play in the Canadian men's curling championship but had a difficult time adjusting the Ontario colours of black, white and red. Kidd adjusted to the pace in Eastern Canadian but missed what was taking place back home. She stayed involved in the game, including reaching the 2004 Ontario women's championship with JoAnne.

"I enjoyed playing but it was entirely different from Saskatchewan," Kidd said. "You all live in different communities and you meet in whichever town you happen to be playing in that weekend. Here, you play club, super league and you practise together. It's more team-like."

Kidd enjoys that team atmosphere.

"There are lots of times when you don't want to throw," Kidd said. "That's the commitment that we have made to each other. We'll all be ready on game days."

The team's history helps. Each member has different ties to their teammate. They are also mothers, wives and have full-time jobs. Kidd and Simmons know what it's like to have partners who are also competitive curlers on the men's side. Pat Simmons, Cindy's husband, is a four-time Saskatchewan men's champion.

"We get along well and we've all been very good friends for years," said Kidd, who is an executive assistant with Clifton Associates. "That is one of the key factors for us. We have a lot of history, backup and support. When you put that all together we are a blended package that has the same goals. We're committed to what we want."

Each member of the team contributes to its performance. Englot said that Kidd brings intensity to the team.

"Darlene is probably the most intense of all of us," said Englot, who finished second at the 1998 Saskatchewan women's championship with Kidd and Materi. "You need to have someone who can keep the intensity level up. Everyone has a role to play and teams who are successful have a good balance of that."

Kidd is aware of her intensity when the team is on the ice.

"They tell me that I scare them sometimes," said Kidd. "I know that I'm the one they have to make smile. I'm intense because I'm not out there to lose. I'm out there to win."

That remains the team's goal. Saskatchewan hasn't won a national women's championship since the late Sandra Schmirler in 1997. Englot's squad plays a type of game that could end that drought.

"We're aggressive and there are a lot of teams that won't play aggressively with us," Kidd said. "Then we have to be patient when we have the hammer and when to go for it. If that happens in the first end, then we'll go for it."
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008