Add Jamie Smith to the growing list of young local curlers who will be seeking a path to nationals beyond the boundaries of the Northern Ontario Curling Association.
Currently 19 years old and having just completed her first year of studies at Laurentian University, Smith will be transferring to Wilfrid Laurier University in September, rounding out a junior trio which competed together in 2019-2020.
The product of the Coniston Curling Club - Smith would go on to represent both the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club in more recent years - is likely to start the 2020-2021 season at vice with a rink that includes skip Isabelle Ladouceur, second Brooklyn Fahl and lead Kelly Middaugh.
Having thrown vice-skip stones with the Bella Croisier quartet that captured both the Canada Winter Games and the U18 Canadian Curling Championships two years ago, Smith now joins a troika that enjoy extremely impressive curling resumes of their own.
A native of New Bedford (Nova Scotia), Ladouceur would precede by one year the gold medal performance of Team Croisier at U18 nationals, as the east coast foursome took home bragging rights in April of 2018 in St Andrews, New Brunswick.
Born in Rosthern (Saskatchewan), second Brooklyn Fahl captured bronze at the Saskatchewan Winter Games, skipping a team that represented the town of Shellbrook and their population of less than 1500 residents.
Finally, lead Kelly Middaugh, the daughter of world reknown curlers Wayne and Sherry Middaugh, has carved out an inspiring legacy of her own, capturing the Laurier Athletics Rich Newbrough Rookie of the Year Award in 2017-2018, part of the OUA championship team that same year and named to the OUA second all-star team twelve months later.
Ladouceur, Fahl and Middaugh all curled together with the Golden Hawks in 2019-2020, attending the same institution as Megan Smith, Jamie's older sister. "The three other girls played together and were looking for another player, and I had not made any plans yet," explained Jamie.
"My sister was definitely there (at Laurier), talking about it, talking with both sides, and kind of creating the relationship to start." Where Megan has aged out of contention for the 2021 New Holland Canadian Junior Men's and Women's Curling Championships set for Fort McMurray (Alberta), the Ladouceur rink has the western bonspiel clearly in their sights.
"We have set pretty high goals," said (Jamie) Smith. "I definitely think that there are bonspiels along the way where there are important ones where you want to do well, but it would definitely be hard not to go to nationals and still call it a successful season."
"I would say that we will be more on the busy side," Smith added. "We all agreed to commit to curling perhaps more than we had in the past, just to take a good run at it." Given her status as the newcomer to the team of incumbents, the academically inclined local talent (Smith will be making the switch from Concurrent Education to Mathematics, as a line of studies, with Laurier not offering the former) believes that a rapid immersion into the chemistry of her new rink will be one critical element of success.
"I think it's really important that I try and get to know them as much as possible as quickly as possible, even before the season starts," she said. "I want to try and understand what they like and what they don't like, how they react to certain things, what brings out the best in them."
The truth is that at their best, the 2020-2021 version of Team Ladouceur is clearly a force to be reckoned with on a national scale.
"The potential that is there gets me really excited," said Smith. Understandably so.