Canada Games

Alberta softball team at Canada Games has curling roots

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The Canadian Press
8/4/2013 3:09:57 PM
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SHERBROOKE, Que. -- The off-season sport for Alberta's women's softball team is a little unorthodox: they curl.

Left-fielder Jocelyn Peterman and pitcher Torri Kleibrink are key players on Alberta's team at the Canada Summer Games this week, but they also have deep ties to the world of competitive curling.

Peterman is the skip of Canada's junior women's curling champions, while Kleibrink is the daughter of Shannon Kleibrink, who led Canada to bronze at the 2006 Olympics.

"Everyone in my family's always played softball in the summer and curling in the winter," said Peterman on Saturday. "That's how my parents met -- at the curling club. I was sort of born into it."

Although Kleibrink curls in her university league with her roommates, fast-pitch softball has always been important in her household.

"My mom played a lot, I remember, and when I was about five of six I started playing T-ball," said Kleibrink. "My parents were always my coaches and it just escalated from there."

Shannon Kleibrink actually believes softball's been a larger part of her life and her daughter's.

"Before I ever curled, fastball was my first sport," said Kleibrink. "I played since I was just really little and she started when she was about five or six as well and just fell in love with it.

"Curling was a little too slow for her."

Shannon Kleibrink still curls competitively but is also very active as a softball coach -- she led her daughter Torri, Peterman and teammates Kami Merrill, Nicole Robertson and Tessa Fioritti to a Junior Western Canadian championship before the five girls were selected to Alberta's team for the Canada Summer Games.

"Every summer, that's what we do, travel all over Canada just playing ball," said Shannon Kleibrink.

The elder Kleibrink hasn't just coached Peterman in softball, but has given her advice on how to improve as a curler.

"I played in an event with her this past year and so she's given me a lot of advice both for curling and softball," said Peterman. "My club team for ball, she's our coach and she was also a competitive ball player, so she's given me a lot of advice for both sports, which is neat.

"She has a lot of experience just with the mental side of games, things like that."

Even though Torri Kleibrink and Peterman have had the chance to draw on Shannon's experience at major multi-sport event like the Olympics, there was no need to ask for advice. The 2013 Games in Sherbrooke, Que., are not Peterman's first -- she curled for Alberta at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax -- and Torri Kleibrink picked it up around the dinner table.

"I guess I've just heard a lot of it over the years," said Torri. "She went to the Olympics in 2006, so I've heard a lot about it since then.

"Just be prepared for the small rooms and uncomfortable beds, I guess."

Although the younger Kleibrink prefers playing softball, it's not so easy for Peterman to pick a favourite sport.

"I guess I like both equally," said Peterman. "It's easy to do that because of how the seasons go together, they never overlap. It's curling and then right into ball, so I never have to choose."

The girls' softball finals and bronze-medal games for the Canada Summer Games will be held on Friday, with Alberta considered one of the favourites to win gold. In the meantime, Torri Kleibrink is just enjoying the experience.

"It's been awesome. I've met lots of cool people, gotten lots of cool pins from other teams," said Kleibrink, gesturing to a lanyard around her neck covered in pins. "The opening ceremonies were amazing and it's been a lot of fun."

Canada Games flag  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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