Team Homan feeling re-energized with new lineup in pursuit of Scotties title
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – Change can be good.
It can serve as a breath of fresh air and re-energize people to perform at a higher level.
Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan are going through that change this season with a new skip and throwing order as they search for their first Scotties Tournament of Hearts title since 2017.
Tracy Fleury, who was a shot away from representing Canada at the Winter Olympics last season, took over skip duties for Homan’s rink in 2022-23 after the departure of front-end player Joanne Courtney. Fleury calls the game and throws third stones while Homan still tosses the last two rocks.
“Tracy was the whole package. She had everything,” Homan said regarding their search for a new teammate. “Amazing attitude, amazing shooter, she’s got big weight accuracy and she can make those soft weight shots. She’s just an all-around player you can put anywhere. We found a great spot for her, leading the crew and keeping us in check.”
Emma Miskew, who is now playing second for the first time in her career, says the change has given her a new energy to contribute to the team in a different way.
“There’s always a little bit more energy when you start with a new team,” Miskew told TSN.ca. “You always want to have a sort of a swagger. For me, I definitely have a new energy doing something different this year. I did the same thing for over 20 years and it’s really nice doing something different and trying to challenge myself to be good at something different.”
Homan and Miskew have been together since their bantam days, winning three Canadian Championships, a World Women’s Curling Championship and an Olympic appearance in 2018 along the way.
And through their 20-plus year run, the lifelong friends have always used the skip-third dynamic between them, but that has changed with Fleury now in the fold.
Miskew says the transition for the team has been fairly smooth when it comes to communication.
“I think we’re still a very communicative team when it comes to strategy so a lot of our strategy calls is a team effort in the first place,” explained Miskew. “Between Rachel and Tracy they’re calling what we want to call most of the time anyways.”
Homan says the tweaked lineup has also let her focus on other parts of her game.
“I think it just changes your responsibilities and roles on the ice,” she said. “My energy went to different places and let her [Tracy] take the reigns on the strategy. Not all my energy is used there.”
Following Monday's action at the Sandman Centre, Team Homan sit in fourth place in Pool B after losing to Manitoba in the afternoon and surviving a strong performance from Yukon in the evening.
After some bumps in the road early this season, the new Homan foursome put together a very strong bonspiel season with wins at the Tour Challenge, Red Deer Classic and a 7-1 showing at the Ontario Scotties.
“There’s always a work in progress when you have a new player, but I feel like with what we’ve expected with a new player and with everyone switching positions, we got there way faster than we expected and could of imagined,” Miskew explained. “Tracy has fit in so well to the team and everything has been really smooth.”
The team also brought aboard Ryan Fry, who will represent Ontario at the Tim Hortons Brier in London next month with Team Mike McEwen, as a coach this season. Fry knew Team Homan quite well previously as he’s played mixed doubles with Miskew in the past.
After a few conversations, the 44-year-old Fry knew his ideals were in-synch with Team Homan.
“We ended up seeing that it would work,” said Fry. “So far, we’re all putting the work in necessary to make it work. So, it’s been a good experience so far.”
Team Homan lost three straight Scotties finals from 2019 to 2021 and will look to break the drought at Sandman Centre this week in Kamloops.
“We’re all learning. If you stop learning you get stagnant. We’re in a position now where we’re all focused and very dedicated to being the best version of ourselves,” said Fry. “When you do that you can get to some pretty high results very quickly.”
Social Media Influencers
Another change in Team Homan this season has been their social media presence.
Homan’s team has always been one of the more active curling rinks when it comes to posting, but this year they’ve ramped that up a few notches with more creative and produced content.
Miskew, a 34-year-old graphic designer, says it’s a good way to show people their personalities away from the rink.
“That’s where the world is going right now is in social media. I think a lot of people think they know a side of us when we’re curling, that’s our athletic side and our competitive side, but we also have personalities outside of curling and social media is nice little way of showing who we are as people,” explained Miskew. “We do have personalities and we are fun. We live real lives outside of this. I think it’s just a nice way of showing other people who we are outside of throwing rocks and sweeping and calling line.”
Whether it’s fooling around in hotel hallways or re-enacting Rihanna’s epic Super Bowl performance, starring their pregnant lead Sarah Wilkes, Team Homan always seem to be in the conversation on curling social media.
“They’re very creative. We have a great social media manager,” said Fleury. “She does a great job. We just like to have a lot of fun off the ice.”