If not for the small matter of this global pandemic, 2020 would have been a year of travel for Sara Guy.
Just graduated from the nursing program at Laurentian University, plans called for the 23 year-old to enjoy seeing a bit of the world before launching herself full tilt into her career.
In fact, it was also a given that the commitment to curling that the member of multiple NOCA championship teams, a young woman who attended many a Canadian Juniors playdown, would have to be curtailed, at least to some extent, as Guy undertook a temporary vagabond experience.
But as luck would have it, it is instead the curling proficiency that she has repeatedly demonstrated that will allow Guy to partake in her remaining passion.
“I cannot wait to be on a plane,” she exclaimed, citing one of her most anticipated joys that will be part and product of the fact that her women’s curling team (Krysta Burns - skip, Megan Smith - vice, Amanda Gates - lead) will represent Northern Ontario at the 2021 Scotties in Calgary next month.
“I’ve not stepped foot on a plane in over a year. I want to be in an airport - but obviously, not really, because of COVID - but I want to feel the excitement of checking in your bags, I want the cramped seats. I absolutely love travelling, I’ve always loved travelling.”
Sara Guy has always found herself pulled in multiple directions. Where others could never be out on the ice enough to satisfy their craving for the sport, this traditional team second was more mixed in her approach. “My teammates would probably say that I’m the one who could complain the most about the amount of dedication that is needed for curling,” she said.
Her core wants and desires have always created a bit of an inner conflict for Guy, even as the 2019-2020 edition of her rink settled upon a more balanced approach with curling and life, all while still boasting the kind of talent that allowed them to give the Krista McCarville rink one heck of a run in the provincial final last year.
“I left that tournament feeling satisfied, in some ways, but also unsatisfied,” Guy stated. “I realized that we do have the potential to actually represent Northern Ontario some year. It kind of made me realize that if I want to be the best, I need to put in the effort. But on the other hand, it was okay to take some time for myself and figure out what I want, that I can still come back to the game and enjoy success.”
Ironically, it is the newest member of the team who has likely most forced the conversation in this regard, challenging the troika only recently removed from the junior ranks to deal with the reality that come adulthood, come time for a career, a sport and everything else that life has to offer, it is next to impossible to have everything.
“Krysta, Megan and I are all about the same age,” explained Guy. “Amanda (about ten years older) makes it a very different team dynamic. She challenges us in a lot of ways, forces us to view curling beyond just going out to throw rocks with my friends. She makes us think about our background in curling, and what our goals and dreams are with the sport.”
In many ways, the group believed they had found just that when they re-assembled (Burns, Smith and Guy played together on several NOCA banner winning teams, with Gates doing the same as a member of the Tracy (Horgan) Fleury rink for years) last fall.
“We had all come to an agreement that we all still wanted to play, but that the commitment was not going to be as severe, with school and other stuff on the go,” said Guy. “We noticed that when we were juniors, our parents did a lot for us; our parents were all very involved. In women’s, I was the adult now.”
But when she needed comfort, Guy need not look far.
“I’ve always felt that it’s been very easy with me and Krysta - in a way, I tend to think of us as a package deal,” she said. “She’s always kind of been that home base for me. When I get a little bit anxious, just having Krysta with me is helpful. She’s that one person who really knows how to ground me.”
That will be key as Team Burns deals with a less than ideal lead in to nationals - albeit, the same environment that will have been experienced by pretty much every single team in the field. “I was at a curling camp one time and we were talking about the meat and potatoes,” Guy recalled. “At some point, curling always comes down to the foundations: my slide, my basic judgement.”
“But then it’s also a matter of getting that feel for tournament ice. You look at something like draw weight and you have to have a feel for what arena ice might feel like, or what club ice might feel like. It probably sounds crazy to people that aren’t curlers that 0.2 seconds (in ice speed) can make so much difference in a shot.”
“That’s something that we can usually work through - but if we haven’t been on the ice, it’s easy to fall back on old routines.”
And so continues the perpetual tug of war in the world of Sara Guy.