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Kira Brunton to curl with women's team in Ottawa

Kira Brunton is coming home to curl next year - which unfortunately means that she will be leaving Sudbury.

Though far more associated with the nickel city over the course of her youth curling career, Brunton was actually born in Ottawa, a place she will call home in 2020-2021, as she makes the leap into the women's open circuit.

The 21 year-old will join forces with skip Lauren Mann, second Cheryl Kreviazuk and lead Karen Trines (Sagle), sliding into the vice-skip slot for the first time in some four to five years.

"After the season came to an abrupt end (due to Covid-19), there was a lot of shuffling around," said Brunton, who closed out her junior eligibility with one final trip to nationals this past January, this one with the rink of Lindsay Dubue, Calissa Daly and Jessica Leonard.

"Karen and Cheryl's team from the season before ended up breaking up and they reached out to me. We talked about forming a team that would play out of Ottawa, because I was already thinking of moving."

"The three of us decided to play together, so we were looking for one more player, and Lauren and Karen are long-time friends. She (Mann) was an obvious fit."

The irony of this emerging squad is that Lauren Mann was actually born in Sudbury, moving away when she was eight, but still with plenty of cross-connections to both the area and the north, in general.

Currently 34 years old, Mann has twice attended the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, representing the province of Quebec. It's a similar story for both Kreviazuk (age 27) and Trines (33), both of whom have also enjoyed success on a provincial and national scale.

Beyond the clear-cut benefit of experience that is offered with three curlers with whom Brunton has never previously competed, the lure of Ottawa was clearly the catalyst in making all of this happen.

"My parents bought a house in Ottawa, my boyfriend lives there, I lived in Ottawa last summer, my gramma and cousins and uncles are there," said Brunton. "I was looking for a bit of a change - and it will help to have us all in the same city, to practice together and play together."

"It will be nice to have a few weekends where we actually just stay in town. I've never been able to do that, playing on the competitive circuit in Sudbury. You're either driving four hours to Toronto, or six hours to Ottawa."

"This takes away at least some of the driving, which will be a big bonus."

Just completing her third year of Sport Psychology at Laurentian University, Brunton remains committed to the program, slipping over to the on-line courses that have become all the more common during this period of pandemic.

While she is as driven as ever regarding her curling, Brunton knows that the jump to a much deeper field of women's curling in Ontario means that her mindset heading into the fall will need to be adjusted, at least a little.

"For the past few seasons, going to nationals has always been a goal, whether it be the university team, U21, mixed doubles, all that kind of stuff," said Brunton. "I think getting to Scotties is more difficult to attain than going to junior nationals or university nationals."

"In terms of what a successful season would look like, it would be gelling well with the girls, achieving some of our goals along the way, winning a few tour events, qualifying for playoffs and such, and making it to the provincials."

"In the big picture, in the first few years of women's (curling), I just want to learn as much as I can."

As for her move to vice, Brunton is taking it all in stride.

"I'm excited, to be honest," she said. "I'm looking forward to a new position, a new opportunity. I've always wanted to be a super strong sweeper, so I'm looking forward to trying that out. And the communication aspect between the front and back end is still key."

"I think my experience as a skip will help a lot, because I know at least what I would want to hear in certain situations."

And though she acknowledged that there is still much uncertainty in the air, on so many levels, Brunton is more than ready to get started. "In terms of what we are capable of, I have always been a confident player," she said. "When we entered the women's events as a junior team that past few years, we were always there to win."

Whether the bonspiels are taking place in Sudbury, or Ottawa, or any other place on the planet, that is not likely to change for Kira Brunton.

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