Wesley Forget’s path to the OUA championships is unlike any other curler before him. After spending the 2015-16 season off the ice as the coach of the men’s curling team, Forget returned to the team this season to don the tricolour jersey as the team’s skip.
Forget, 25, is both a full-time Residence Life Coordinator at Queen’s and a full-time student. Because of his status as a student, he was eligible to play on the curling team.
The transition in roles paid off for the Gaels, as Forget and his teammates walked away from the OUA championships against the Laurier Golden Hawks on Feb. 20 with a silver medal.
Forget believes that the Gaels and the Golden Hawks were well-matched teams in terms of skill, calling Queen’s “the team to beat”. Three of the Gaels’ players — Forget, Decebal Michaud and Alexander Cormier —were named to the four-man first team of 2017 All-Stars. The fourth was Jordie Lyon-Hatcher of the Laurier Golden Hawks.
“I think that we know that the Queen’s curling team was the best this year, we just struggled in that final game and that happens,” Forget said.
Forget thinks that the depth of experience on this year’s roster is the difference between this season’s team and the teams of seasons past. “Everyone on the team this year has played in a provincial final or has been to a national championship,” Forget said.
While Forget says that previous teams have had players with passion for the sport, the experience that this season’s team possesses made the transition to the OUA playoffs much easier. “They’ve already kind of done it in their own way, in the junior tour and the men’s tour and such,” Forget said.
The team played club games twice a week in preparation for the playoffs. They play at the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club, where they faced stiff competition to prepare themselves for the OUA — two teams from the club went to the Travelers Club Championship in the last three years. The Travelers Club Championship, an annual event for men’s and women’s curling teams who’ve won their local club championships, is a high caliber event.
Forget says that curling is as much a mental game as a physical one — which the team has prepared for as well. They’ve both discussed game play with their opponents at the club and prepared strategies. “It is very much a game of chess on ice. It’s about where you place your stone, your opponent is going to place their stone somewhere else.
“Trying to get inside their head a little bit and be able to play the back and forth.” Forget says that the team will focus
shot-by-shot on making it through each game of the tournament, rather than thinking about the tournament as a whole, as has been his strategy before.
The second-place finish at the OUA’s has given the team a berth into the U Sports national championship, which will take place on March 18 in Thunder Bay. Forget and his team are already planning ahead. Forget says they will approach the tournament with an open style and a defensive approach, a strategy that allows the team to be both flexible and secure in games.
“The silver medal means a lot,” Forget said with a smile. He says that Queen’s alumni were texting him words of encouragement, reminding him that the last time Queen’s won a banner was back in 2004.
“I was doing it for the Queen’s community, which made it so much easier.”
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