Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
Two junior members, Carson Kay and Gabe DeCastris, from the Quinte Curling Club have qualified for the U18 provincial championships with their Kitchener-based rink Team MacTavish.
Team MacTavish of the Westmount Curling Club, seeded fifth, went undefeated in three games at a qualifier in Palmerston to advance to the Curling Ontario championship Jan. 19-23 at the Oshawa Golf and Curling Club.
“Our play in the qualifier was excellent. We all knew what was on the line and made almost every shot that had to be made,” said Kay, who is the team’s vice (third) alongside skip Tyler MacTavish, second Nathan Kim and DeCastris, who is the lead. “Going into our game against the top-ranked team in the province we felt really strong. We went out and made sure every shot was made and made correctly.”
DeCastris and Kay, who have previously competed at Little Rocks provincials, joined Team MacTavish by adding their names to a free agency list online for teams looking for players. They were contacted by the MacTavish family and jumped at the opportunity to join the team.
“I had met Tyler MacTavish at qualifier for the Hit, Draw and Tap finals two years ago,” Kay, who has been with the Quinte Curling Club for five years after switching clubs, noted.
DeCastris has been curling for six years.
“I like the strategy of it,” DeCastris said, adding he’s enjoying being a part of Team MacTavish.
“We all work well together and I think that’s what makes us a good team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being able to play on a bigger scale than we are used to.”
Kay enjoys all aspects of curling, including the position of vice, which involves throwing the fifth and sixth stones and helping to call the shots when the skip throws the final two.
“I feel that I see the shots in the game well, but when given the opportunity to sweep I would take it all day long,” he remarked. “For someone that likes both the shot calling and the sweeping sides of the game, vice is the best of both worlds.”
Team MacTavish is a young, but formidable group at the U18 level. MacTavish is only 14 years old while Kay, DeCastris and Kim are 15.
“Our connection and trust to each other is huge. As a team of four we all connect extremely well, but we also connect as twos, the two front end players are almost like brothers and myself and Tyler connect like brothers,” Kay said. “We trust each other’s abilities and we communicate openly about shots and strategy. This allows for everything on the ice to run super smooth. Along with our connections on the ice, we also as a team have some great connections off the ice.”
Kay said the team benefits from great coaching, including primary coach John Thompson and credits him for preparing clear game plans for the players to execute at the qualifier.
“John Thompson is an excellent coach, has had many coaching successes and is very knowledgeable. He gives a lot of his time to work with us as a whole team, but also as individuals on things we each need to improve on,” Kay said. “Since the team is split across the province, Gabe and myself have a high skills coach that works with us at Quinte Curling Club, Beth Calwell, who like John is very knowledgeable and has helped Gabe and I immensely.”
At this time, the provincial championships are still expected to go ahead as planned in Oshawa and Team MacTavish will certainly carry confidence into that event based on their strong play this season.
“We expect the competition level at provincials to be top notch and we believe we deserve to be there with the way we have been playing this season,” Kay said.