McGovern rules the curling rink
Niagara College recreational therapy student McKenna McGovern bulked up her curling resume in a big way this past season.
It started in January when the 18-year-old Lambton Shores resident was the alternate on the Sierra Sutherland team that placed sixth with a 5-5 record while representing Ontario at the under-21 national championships in Langley, B.C.
“Representing our province was incredible and just being there was great,” she said. “I got to play four games and I can’t complain about that.”
McGovern followed that up by teaming with Ben Jones at Niagara College to win the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association mixed doubles championships with a perfect 9-0 record.
“Representing the Niagara Knights and winning the first-ever OCAA mixed doubles championships and having gold around our necks was amazing.”
Not done with mixed doubles, she paired with Ryan Hahn to qualify as Canada’s representative for the Nordic Junior Curling Tour in April in Stockholm, Sweden. Last year, she and boyfriend Sam Steep won that event.
“Even though it is not happening like it is supposed to, still having that (Canadian) title is great,” she said. “It was heart-breaking but I am glad that I had that win underneath me to say that for a second time I would be on a Canadian rink that was going to go to Sweden at some point.”
Canadian organizer Byron Scott has assured McGovern and Hahn that he will do everything he can to get the event rescheduled.
McGovern and Steep were also able to make it to their first adult mixed doubles provincials in Brockville at the end of February and finished with a 2-3 record.
“It was a different atmosphere competing against adults,” she said. “We learned that we need to have a bit more practice for the next season but I am glad that we got that opportunity to go and get ready for the years coming up.”
“It was a really great season overall with all the experiences.”
McGovern is on the ice five times a week at the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club, curling in a mixed four-person league on Tuesdays and a mixed doubles league on Friday.
The St. Catharines club is very supportive of her curling endeavours.
“Any time there is free ice and I text and call them to ask if I can use it, they are more than willing to have me on the ice which I really appreciate.”
McGovern was looking forward to teaming with Steep, Sammy Churchill and Brooke Davis to represent the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club in the mixed provincials Easter weekend in Elmira but it was cancelled because of the pandemic.
“That was the first time of me thinking ‘Dang, I should be curling right now’ but I have been keeping myself busy,” she said. “I am almost done my schoolwork and obviously I am going for walks and keeping myself active.”
Curling is near and dear to her thoughts at all times.
“They have curling on Facebook and they are replaying some curling games so if I need my fix I can go watch some of those games.”
It’s a sport she truly loves.
“Ever since I stepped on the ice when I was seven years old, I am always smiling and I always have a positive attitude,” she said. “When I step on the ice, it is that feeling of the love of the sport and I have never lost it.”
It helped her deal with the trials and tribulations of her first year of studies at Niagara College.
“It just de-stressed me and it was fantastic.”
She loves everything about the sport.
“I have meant so many people through curling and I have had great experiences like going to Sweden,” she said. “I have friends across the world and I met my boyfriend Sam through curling.”
She enjoys the atmosphere on the ice.
“It is a sport that I would never have pictured myself in but once I got myself on the ice it as something that I never wanted to stop playing.”
She first got involved in the sport after watching her older sister Taija’s practices.
Once her schooling finishes this week, McGovern will be working in recreational therapy at the North Lambton Lodge long term care facility in Forest.