Red Deer’s Brittany Tran can remember the days of heading to the Pidherney Centre with her grandfather to play the sport she loves.
She was six years old when she took up curling and since then has amassed a successful curling career.
The now 30-year-old has plenty of accolades to her name including Canada Winter Games silver in 2011.
She is also a two-time Mixed Doubles Alberta champion and has competed at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts three times.
As third for Team Skrlik out of Calgary, Tran won the 2023 Alberta Women’s Provincials and once again competed at the Scotties this year.
Tran spoke at the 15th annual Special Olympics Red Deer Celebrity Breakfast and following the event Tran said curling has become an innate part of her.
“I’ve been curling for a very long time and it’s been such a passion of mine. It’s really taught a lot of valuable life lessons about teamwork and camaraderie,” she said.
“I think curling is an incredible community… I’ve made so many lifelong friendships through it and I am able to curl with my family and watch the sport with my family. Building those connections is the value it’s brought to my life.”
In the last few years, Tran became a board member for UnitedWeCurl, advocating for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Tran, who is half Caucasian and half Vietnamese, also highlighted in her speech that this year Team Skrilik became the first BIPOC majority team at the Scotties.
She also advocates for mental health after a close friend of hers took her own life.
“Mental health has become super important to me. It was important before but that just reinforced it in how we need to support each other and ourselves mentally just as we do physically,” she said.
“For diversity, equity, and inclusion I’m in a sport that’s not so diverse. I like to be able to promote where I can… As somebody who looks different and is of a different ethnicity, I can try to do what I can there for the sport.”
Tran explained when she was younger she never saw anyone who looked like her in the sport. And now through the Grand Slam of Curling, we’ve seen teams compete and win such as Team Fujisawa from Japan.
“We’re seeing some Asian teams come up through the ranks but we’re still missing some diversity in other areas. It is nice to be able to see that and it’s so fun to watch them on TV. I’m just hoping that impact is being made when people are watching me on TV,” she added.
Also among the speakers was Red Deer’s Elliott Moskowy who got a standing ovation from the crowd at the Harvest Centre.
The 31-year-old first started competing for the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club before joining the Special Olympics as a swimmer.
He found the sport came naturally to him and in 2010 swam in his first major competition. As the years went on he trained vigorously until he reached the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angeles, Calif.
In what he called the height of his glory, Moskowy won three gold medals and one silver medal at the event. Following the pandemic, he also discovered his love for curling this past winter.
“[Being a part of the Special Olympics] has provided great opportunities that I never thought possible during my regular lifetime,” he said.
“I was able to go to places I could only imagine being in… I have made memories that I treasure very fondly to this day. I’ve made my family proud of me and I’d be nothing without their support to get through all the trials and difficulties.”
Chairman of Special Olympics Red Deer Jerry Tennant explained 225 people at the breakfast raised approximately $9,000 for the organization.
It’s one of their major fundraisers and the money is used to cover various expenses, purchasing equipment, and facilities.
“It’s not an inexpensive program but we get so much support from the community in terms of fundraising… It was a big success,” he said.
Tennant added this year they’ve seen an increase with approximately 50-60 volunteers and by this fall they expect to have 300 athletes after seeing a dip during the pandemic.
They also added two new sports, pickleball and basketball, to offer a total of 14 sports in Red Deer.