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Next up: Nationals – Shelburne curling team even surprises itself by winning provincial masters event

Members of the winning Shelburne provincial masters team: skip Greg Hicks; third Clark Acker, second Peter McAfee; lead Norm Wallett.
Members of the winning Shelburne provincial masters team: skip Greg Hicks; third Clark Acker, second Peter McAfee; lead Norm Wallett. - Contributed

Team now focusing on fundraising to attend national competition in Surrey, British Columbia

SHELBURNE, N.S. – What happens when four curlers from Shelburne put a team together because Shelburne is hosting a provincial masters curling event?

First off, team members Greg Hicks (skip), Clark Acker (third), Peter McAfee (second) and Norman Wallett (lead) didn’t just go into the competition with low expectations, they went in with no expectations.

“We didn’t make it any bigger than what it was, just the curling,” says Hicks.

But not only – much to their own surprise – did they win the entire men’s portion of the tournament. Now, as the event champions, they will be traveling to Surrey, British Columbia, in April to represent Nova Scotia on the national stage.

Yep, even they didn’t see that coming.

Since Shelburne was hosting these provincial masters for curlers 60 years of age and older, back in the fall one of the team members approached some other local curlers about putting a host team together. At that point, none of them had curled together as a team.

“Starting out back in November, every Monday night we would get together and have practices and after a while played some local teams,” says Hicks, who at 60 is the youngest member of the team. “We went into the Barrington open bonspiel, so we had about eight games under our belts as a team, which helps because everybody throws a little different, to communicate, and we’re all friends on and off the ice.”

They were seeded low going into the masters event. Asked about their strategy going into the provincial tournament, Hicks says there really wasn’t one.

“You weren’t standing in the hack saying if we make this shot we can win a Nova Scotia championship. We just looked at it like another curling game, one shot at a time, and it worked out so well,” he says. “And with no expectations, if we lost then at least we had represented our club.”

Only they didn’t lose.

The team was 7-0 in the tournament before losing their first match in the triple knockout tournament, and they kept forging forward. At one point in the tournament, of three available qualifying spots, Hicks says they even held two or them.

Their final games came down to playing the Amherst Fowler team.

“We went into the last day in the enviable position that they had to beat us twice, and we won the first game,” says Hicks, who adds the support they received from the community during the tournament was unreal.

Elizabeth Acker is married to team member Clark Acker. But she was also the chair of the event and is a member of the Shelburne Curling Centre’s executive. She says people were coming to the curling rink early just to get a seat to watch the Shelburne men’s team and cheer them on.

“They just curled magnificently,” she says. “We were seeded 9th or 10th out of 12 men’s teams. But they were shot for shot with all of the other teams.”

Even Acker says she was shocked that the team won the tournament, calling it the Cinderella story of the event.

Now for the Hicks team, the attention turns to fundraising. It’ll be expensive to travel to Surrey, B.C., to represent Nova Scotia so the team is seeking sponsorships and Elizabeth Acker says they also hope to do some fundraising. While the masters event was sponsored by the N.S. Curling Association, the team needs to come up with the funding for the trip to nationals.

“You’re looking at around $10,000…staying in hotels for 10 days and meals and flights and car rentals, it’s a big endeavour,” says Hicks.

On Saturday, March 10, a celebration evening will be held at the Ship's Galley in Shelburne from 8-10 p.m. People are invited to drop by to celebrate with the team and take part in some fun fundraising.

An NS Masters Champs 2018 GoFundMe page has also been set up.

Meanwhile, as for how they’ll approach the national tournament, Hicks says they’re going to stick with what worked for them this first time around.

“We’re just going to look at it the same way we did here,” he says, admitting it will likely feel different with that Nova Scotia crest on their jackets. “We’re going to enjoy ourselves. If we win, we win. If we lose, we had a great time.”

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