ST. CATHARINES, ONT. — It’s an unlikely curling connection but right now it’s creating some Scotties magic.
Two years ago elite Ontario skip John Epping, currently fifth on this year’s money list on the World Curling Tour, reached out to Yellowknife skip Kerry Galusha about helping the team out.
“Kerry was down and out with curling,” said Epping. “She was really frustrated with how it was going.”
Epping told Galusha not to give up and that if her team wanted help he was ready and willing. But the skip didn’t take him up on the offer at first. A few months later at a charity curling bonspiel the two connected again and this time Galusha said yes to the coaching help.
“He keeps us grounded,” said Galusha. “We’re doing things we’ve never done before. We’re a team from the North. Usually we’d be out shopping on our free time or sightseeing. He’s keeping us focused.”
Epping has the team on a strict schedule this week at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. He’s mapping out everything from shutting down their phones and the TV, to training, to what they eat.
“They’re not hard to work with. It’s basically them putting full trust in me,” said Epping.
It’s been a long journey for the team from the Yellowknife Curling Club. Last year, in the early days of coach Epping, the team lost in the pre-qualifying final. Heartbroken but not deterred the team refocused and even incorporated Skype sessions over the past year with Epping to prepare for this year’s Scotties.
“We’ve had a lot of Skype sessions and I made sure each of them could reach out to me privately and separately,” said Epping.
He would even Facetime with second Danielle Derry while she was throwing stones at the rink.
“We get more out of an hour Skype session with him then if we had an actual coach in…