Curling history made

STRATHROY - The pride of Nunavut curling made history March 4 at the Brier by winning the northern territory’s first-ever game at the national championship.

And the skip from Strathroy could not be prouder.

“You can’t even talk about what that felt like. It almost brought me to tears, even talking about it now brings me to tears. It was so amazing, man,” Jake Higgs told the Banner minutes after the crowd at Budweiser Gardens in London cheered wildly for his team as they walked off the sheet.

Being from the area -- Higgs has also been playing out of Ilderton since he was 10 years old, and his second Nunavut-born Brady St. Louis now lives in St. Marys -- meant a decent cheering section for Nunavut.

“I saw a ton of people all over the place, cheering your name every time you make a shot. There was so much support, and we made enough shots today to win,” said Higgs.

One person who may not have seen Nunavut’s history-making 7-4 win over Newfoundland and Labrador was Higgs’ wife.

“My daughter had hockey in Ilderton so they may have had to leave, I don’t know,” laughed Higgs.

The win was made all the more impressive by the fact the team only played a few times all together. Higgs and St. Louis tried to get together when they could, and lead Christian Smitheram and third Sheldon Wettig would play together a few times in Iqaluit, a nine-hour flight north on Baffin Island.

The story of how this team got together is a very curling-type story.

“I curled for the Canadian mixed for Ontario maybe six-seven years ago. So while I was [there] a couple of the Nunavut guys, we had a beverage together and they said, ‘hey, would you want to come up and be our import player?’” explained Higgs.

Every team is allowed an out-of-province player.

“So I said sure, that’s be great,” said Higgs, who first represented Nunavut at the 2020 Brier in Kingston.

Higgs plays Northwest Territories and the Carruthers wild card team from Manitoba Wednesday before getting back to his day job as math teacher and athletic director at Arthur Voaden secondary school in St. Thomas. The school does not have a curling team... yet.

Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner