Tuesday, February 19

Three In A Row: The Rebound Continues

Englot continues to rebound

Murray McCormick, The Leader-Post
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Before her father's death, before starting 0-2 at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Michelle Englot was feeling great about her lot in life.

The Regina-based skip of Saskatchewan at the Canadian women's curling championship was pleased with work, her family life and the way it had come together in her 44th year. Most of those good feelings were pushed to the side when Joe Englot died Friday, one day before the Scotties started at the Brandt Centre. Joe Englot died at the family farm in Montmartre after suffering a heart attack.

"I'm battling to get back, get back there and that isn't coming easily," Englot said after rebounding from her dreadful start to improve to 3-2 and tied for fourth with four others heading into today's draws. "Hopefully we'll use the other strengths that we have."

Englot has drawn upon more than the support of her team to deal with the tragedy. Englot, Darlene Kidd, Roberta Materi and Cindy Simmons had met with sports psychologist Gary Gregor on Thursday and a number of times over the weekend. Gregor, who helped 1989 Saskatchewan Roughriders win the Grey Cup, has helped the players and alternate Lorie Kehler and coach Anita Ford deal with the grief they are all feeling.

"We gave each other permission to play like we normally do and that was huge," Simmons said. "It was OK to have fun out there, to be ourselves and play the way we want to play. It's not disrespectful and we've given ourselves permission to have fun and that's when we play our best. If I couldn't do that, I wouldn't be playing."

Normal is a state Englot is striving to reach. She was not there when Saskatchewan was beaten 9-6 by Quebec's Marie-France Larouche on Saturday and 8-6 by Ontario's Sherry Middaugh on Sunday.

"It was definitely hard and it is hard to step out there," said Englot, who is appearing in her sixth Scotties but first as the skip of the hometown team. "There are moments when I get weepy but I'm doing OK."

A three-game winning streak has helped. Englot was dealing more with curling questions as the weekend progressed.

Gregor, who worked with Englot at the 2001 Canadian Olympic team trials, has helped her clear some of the hurdles associated with her grief.

"It's nice having a third party come in and talk about your emotions," said Englot. "Giving us permission to play was important for me because I was struggling with it. Maybe I shouldn't be here ... That definitely helped me."

The move forward started Sunday night when Englot bounced back from a 6-4 sixth-end deficit to pull out an 8-6 win over Team Canada's Kelly Scott. Englot backed up that win with a 10-5 victory over New Brunswick's Sylvie Robichaud on Monday morning and a 5-4 win over B.C.'s Allison MacInnes last night.

"Family Day was good to us and we'll take it," Englot said. "We just hope that we can keep building on this."

Englot has games today against Kerry Galusha of the Yukon/Northwest Territories at 9:30 a.m. and Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault at 2 p.m.

Upon the completion of those games, Englot and her team will make the 90-kilometre trip southeast of Regina to Montmartre for a funeral mass, 7 p.m., at Sacred Heart Church. Saskatchewan also has Wednesday morning off before resuming play at 2 p.m. against Heather Strong of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"We'll deal with (today) the same we have been," Englot said. "We'll give ourselves permission to play. We have a funeral to attend after that but I think we're through the toughest part emotionally. (Tonight) will be tough but we have grieved and we're starting to turn the corner. We'll be all right and we'll deal with it."

Englot (3-2) was tied with Manitoba's Jennifer Jones, Arsenault and Larouche. Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink (5-0) is first followed by Heather Strong of Newfoundland-Labrador and Ontario's Sherry Middaugh at 4-1.

The Scotties runs through Sunday. The winner is to represent Canada at the Ford women's world championship, March 22-30 in Vernon, B.C.
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2008