L-R Leigh Armstrong, Lee Merklinger, Jo-Ann Rizzo, Sherry Middaugh

By Jim Dolan

To show its appreciation for all the support from curlers, fans, sponsors and the community over the years, the Fall Classic invites the public to join members of the North Grenville Curling Club for its Rock the Classic Pub Night on Friday, November 4.

Admission is free for all fans and the public who arrive at the club after 6 pm. So come early and watch some exceptional women athletes curl and then stay to enjoy a live band “Still Rockin” who will play from 8:30 to 11:30.

The Royal LePage OVCA Women’s Fall Classic is a World Curling Tour event. It is the largest all women’s competitive curling bonspiel in Canada east of Toronto, Ontario. Teams will play for $17,500 in prize money and the winner will take home $5,500.

The field is once again strong. For a complete list of teams and draw times, visit the Fall Classic website at classic.ovca.com. There are so many good teams in this year’s event, from Newfoundland to Manitoba in Canada, as well as the number one women’s team from Japan. If you had to pick just two – Sherry Middaugh from Coldwater and Ayumi Ogasawara from Sapporo Japan would have to be considered the favourites. They are the top two teams in the event based on World Curling Tour standings.

The Sherry Middaugh team will be making its third appearance at the Classic. I last met Sherry at the Ottawa Brier. When Sherry said her team would be coming to this year’s Fall Classic, I could not have been happier because local fans of curling will have the opportunity to meet a team that represents all that is good about women’s curling.
Sherry and her third Jo-Ann Rizzo are both over 50 years old and they still burn with a desire to become better each new season. That passion is what separates the great competitors from the good players. The team spent part of the summer training and they used video to analyze their deliveries. Sherry said: “It proved helpful in pointing out some bad habits that had crept into their deliveries over the years.” Off the ice, Sherry, Jo-Anne and teammates Lee Merklinger and Leigh Armstrong are true ambassadors for the sport they love.

If you are looking for a crowd-favourite team, you have to look no further than Nova Scotia’s Mary-Anne Arsenault. Team Arsenault always attracts a large local following, especially from the Smiths Falls area. Given the quality of the field, local teams would have to be considered as dark horses in the event. However, fans should not be surprised if Ottawa area teams make it to Championship Sunday, especially teams skipped by Erin Morrissey, Erin Macaulay, Hollie Nicol and the veteran Cheryl McBain.

The players really enjoy meeting the fans so come by the club, bring your provincial or Japanese Flag and cheer on your favourite team. The Fall Classic begins on Thursday, November 3 with five draws starting at 9:15 am. Preliminary round action continues on Friday at 8:45 am and Saturday at 9 am. Championship Sunday begins at 9 am with the quarterfinals. The semi-finals are slated for 12:30 pm, followed by the championship game at 3:30 pm. Admission is $15 for an Event Pass. A day pass is $10. Persons 17 and under are admitted free.


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