Thursday, February 14

Second: Roberta Materi

Materi has her own home team

Murray McCormick, Leader-Post
Published: Thursday, February 14, 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 four-part series on each member of Englot's team with a profile of Simmons. Today, it's Materi's turn.

Roberta Materi is second on one curling team and could be the skip of another.

Materi throws second stones with Regina's Michelle Englot, who with third Darlene Kidd and lead Cindy Simmons, are Saskatchewan's representatives at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Englot earned a berth as the hometown team in the Canadian women's championship, which starts Saturday at the Brandt Centre.

Away from the rink Materi, 32, rules a house of a different kind. Materi and her husband, Scott, are the parents of three year-old triplets -- Alexa, Peighton and Kaden.

"It was very chaotic, with a lack of sleep and they were very demanding,'' said Materi, who took a two-year hiatus from competitive curling with Englot to devote time to her young team. "At the same time it was lots of fun. I wouldn't have wanted to be away all of those weekends while they were babies.''

Now that the triplets are older, Materi was able to take on a more demanding schedule. Englot played in five weekend bonspiels during the pre-Christmas cash season and all three levels of the playdowns en route to winning the provincial championship.

"I wouldn't want to play a more demanding schedule than that,'' said Materi, who is a human resources manager at SaskTel. "Scott is very supportive and he's very competent at home with the kids by himself. Not all dads can do that but he can.''

There are tradeoffs. Roberta said her husband is an avid outdoorsman and is particularly interested in hunting. Scott has his time off to hunt and Roberta gets to curl.

"It's challenging at times but Scott and I are very organized,'' said Materi, who has been married for eight years. "We just make it happen. Right now, the kids are young enough that they aren't in a lot of activities other than day care five days a week and swimming. I know in a few years that will change and it will be more hectic.''

Materi remembers when curling wasn't as hectic. She shared in the 2001 Saskatchewan women's championship with Englot, Lorie Kehler and Joan Stricker. There weren't any children and basically all that Materi had to do was head to Sudbury, Ont., for her first Scotties. Englot didn't make the playoffs after finishing 4-7.

"It has definitely made me want it more,'' said Materi. "It's so special that you just want to keep working hard and get another crack at a national title.''

Materi spent another three seasons curling with Englot before missing 2005 and 2006 playdowns. Materi curled some while the children were young but mostly it was motherhood and getting herself back in shape. Materi could be seen some mornings jogging behind a stroller full of her kids.

"I did miss curling and I spared a bit which kept me on the ice,'' Materi said. "I missed being part of the competitive game.''

Materi has been with Englot for eight of the last 10 years. Materi played on the team, along with Kidd, that finished second at the 1998 Saskatchewan women's championship. Regina's Cathy Trowell won the provincial championship that year and was rewarded with an opportunity to be the hometown team in the Canadian women's championship. Ten years later, the three team members finally have the opportunity to be Saskatchewan in Regina.

"We did get to play in the Olympics trials in 2001, so we got to have a little taste of it,'' Materi said. "There were three other Saskatchewan teams, though, and it will be different being the one and only.''

Kidd said that Materi is the ultimate front-end player, which simply enhances the team's chances for success.

"Roberta only speaks when spoken to, which you want in a front-end player,'' Kidd said with a laugh. "Michelle is the leader of the team in some ways but Roberta is the boss. We all have our own game faces and we all know how to deal with each other.''

Materi has honed that ability while guiding her young team around her home. Starting Saturday, Materi will be able to have the run of another house while pursing a national title. She's looking forward to being the hometown team.

"It was hard for our families to get to the provincials with them having to look after all of the little kids,'' said Materi. "We should have more support at home and that's exciting.''
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008