Team McLeod is proving that Portage-based curlers can compete with the best of the best. The squad, made up of Lisa McLeod, Janelle Lach, Hallie McCannell, and Jolene Callum, started the 2023 Scottie's Tournament of Hearts with a bang.
The local team won their first three matches in round-robin play and ended up being one of the final six teams remaining in the provincial event.
"We've had 11 games together as a team, so I'm trying to play to the positives of each player," says Skip Lisa McLeod. "We really thrive on getting a good setup, and then we were able to play a little more aggressively if we get that. If we don't, we look for opportunities to get out of the end without too much trouble. That's our simple gameplan."
Obviously, a vast majority of the teams looking to become the provincial champions had more than just four matches under their belt as a team coming into the tournament. McLeod outlines what she attributes to the team's instant chemistry.
"The amount of pressure was very reasonable and manageable coming into the season at the end of November. We had expectations but there wasn't a lot of pressure on the team," McLeod explains. "That's allowed us to throw our rocks the way we know how to throw our rocks and to let each player make those shots. Everyone's been stepping up, and it's been nice and calm. It's about that calmness, I think."
McLeod adds while they are a very new team, most of the group is familiar with each other in one way or another, which she says makes things a lot easier.
"The first three players have been playing together all season, so they know each other's dynamics, and they've kept that going," McLeod continues. "I've been playing with Jolene for 12 years, she brings calmness to me, and I've played with Janelle for a few games as well. For Hallie, we're just really excited for her to be out there because it's her first Scottie's. The rest of us have a lot of experience at the Scottie's but it's so exciting that first time."
While Team McLeod didn't finish as hot as they started, being eliminated yesterday, they are still extremely grateful for the support shown by local fans.
"I love playing out of the rural communities. I've always played with Jolene, out of Miami, and the communities are so supportive. We see the posts, and it feels fantastic. I definitely want to send a shout-out to the Portage rink because they were coming in to do the ice just for us. That's only going to happen in a smaller community. We're not going to get the ice maker to come just for us in a city club. So, we're really thankful to have the support of the community."
The 2023 Scottie's Tournament of Hearts winner will be crowned today, with the final draw going down at 2 p.m.