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An OFSAA curling championship with a culinary twist

Athletes require motivation.

For Lynn (Borgogelli) Frost, that initial motivation, at least when it came to curling, was routed through her stomach.

“A lot of my early memories are centered around food,” she recalled recently. “My dad (Del) curled a lot. We would go to watch him and bring our colouring books and set up activities on the ledge that would overlook the rink, with my mom sitting behind us. Copper Cliff is where he curled out of, and Mrs Johnston made the most amazing butter tarts and lemon pie.”

“At the Idylwylde, the treat was grape juice and ginger ale. In Coniston, it was all about the hamburger.”

Suffice to say that the motivation proved fruitful.

Teaming up with her older sister, Lori, as well as the front-end tandem of Kelly Henderson and Donna Veno, the young ladies would capture the 1981 OFSAA Curling Championship, representing the Marymount Regals and doubling Uxbridge 4-2 in the final.

“I don’t think we were expected to place high in the standings in comparison to the southern Ontario teams,” recalled Lori, now Ballstadt and a long-time resident of Sault Ste Marie. “But back then, curling was primarily a hitting game, so teams that had the ability to also play the finesse shots often defeated their opponents.”

“Perhaps that’s why we were successful. Our front end players were great sweepers and Lynn, Donna and Kelly certainly made my job easier when the skip needed to come up with the big shots. During the curling season, we trained several times a week, both on and off the ice, getting physically and mentally ready for competition.”

For as much as the Borgogelli clan would go on to enjoy accomplishments in a variety of sporting settings, curling was clearly a key throughout the youth of the sisters and their brother, Mark. “My dad coached us, in high-school, on our competitive team,” said Lynn.

“After many games, my sister and dad would talk strategy in the car on the way home. I was impressed that my sister could recall the sequence of events. I, on the other hand, couldn’t remember what happened when and was glad to be the younger sister sitting quietly in the backseat.”

Mom, a solid curler in her own right, would assume the role of chief cheerleader. The three kids and dad would often enjoy the opportunity to curl mixed bonspiels together while Irene watched behind the glass.

“During the curling season, we were a busy family and Irene was our biggest fan and supporter,” said Frost. “She would tackle those ever so necessary duties - one of which was sewing on crests and our family name. And our last name isn’t a short one … 40 letters in all! We couldn’t have been as successful as we were without the support from both of our parents and the curling community.”

“I remember competing in provincials, one year, in Timmins and receiving a telegram from the Copper Cliff Business Girls,” added Frost. “It was a very supportive community.”

For as much as the competitive curling scene accounted for many lifelong impressions for the talented siblings, there was something special about the Regals rink that captured lightning in a bottle forty years ago.

“I was in grade nine or ten, two years behind my sister, but it was really nice to curl with her,” said Frost. “There are certain dynamics when you curl with the family - it can get a little passionate,” she laughed. “I might be in the house, directing the rock that my sister delivered, and we were both getting passionate about whether there should be sweeping or not.”

Of the two, Lori easily maintained the greater contact with curling, throughout the years. While still in Sudbury, her days of competitive women’s play included teammates such as Sheila Ross, Brenda Johnston and Donna Veno, yet again. In 1996, Ballstadt would co-chair the Provincial Women’s Curling Championships in the Sault, also serving as a volunteer with the 2010 Scotties.

Mark curls in Sudbury, to this day. In 2011, he participated in the 2011 Canadian Senior Championships in Digby (Nova Scotia) as a member of the Eric Harnden foursome.

Lynn, by contrast, would establish city records in track and field before her high school days were completed at Sudbury Secondary, earning a second OFSAA gold medal, this time in basketball as a North Star and eventually suiting up with the Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team during her university career.

Sandwiched between all of those moments are the recollections of striking gold at OFSAA and the work that went into making it all happen. “We used to go down to the basement and practice sweeping on the cement floor to get ready for the season,” said Frost, conjuring up images of the corn brooms of old.

“I think that people generally under-estimate the dedication and athleticism required to excel. The technical sport of curling has changed - the brooms in motion are quiet in comparison and we didn’t use stopwatches back then.”

Yet the quarter of Borgogelli (squared), with Henderson and Veno would survive posting a 3-2 record in round robin group I play, really hitting their stride when it mattered the most. Marymount would upend the Loyalist Lancers from Kingston 8-4 in the semi-final match, besting a squad that included future Scotties vice Theresa Breen.

“Winning the 1981 OFSAA Girls Curling Championship was certainly one of the highlights of my early curling years,” acknowledged Ballstadt. “It was such a proud moment for coach Del, school chaperone Trina Bottos (who cried tears of joy throughout the event), and the team parents that travelled to cheer us on at the playdowns.”

“It was quite the celebration, to say the least.”

Years have passed, accentuating the differences between the current curling experience and those of the era of the 1970s and 1980s. The 1981 OFSAA program featured an outline of “Courtesy Rules” of the time, which included notations such as: “be a lady - extend the same consideration and courtesy to other curlers that you expect of them” and “lady curlers do not smoke on the ice.”

These days, Frost has moved on to another sporting endeavour - though it’s easy to understand the new attraction.

“I always thought that when I became old, .. well, maybe older, I would go back to curling,” she said. “But in 2019, I joined the Cosburn Park LBC) - my new passion is lawn bowling. There are a lot of similarities between curling and lawn bowling. Someday, I hope to compete at the provincial level in lawn bowling.”

“But for now, I am thrilled to be learning a new sport and meeting some great people along the way. I’m learning that I really miss the social and competitive side of sports.”

With or without a culinary treat on the side, the motivation of competitiveness just doesn’t go away.

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