Manitoba skip Tracy Fleury releases a rock as they play Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. Fleury has brought on veteran skip Sherry Middaugh to serve as coach of the Winnipeg-based team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Manitoba skip Tracy Fleury releases a rock as they play Ontario at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. Fleury has brought on veteran skip Sherry Middaugh to serve as coach of the Winnipeg-based team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Team Tracy Fleury adds longtime skip Sherry Middaugh as coach

Previously coached at the U18 and U21 levels

Team Tracy Fleury, a foursome that appears close to a breakthrough on the Canadian women’s curling scene, has brought in longtime skip Sherry Middaugh as coach to help get them to the top.

Middaugh will try to guide the rink back to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this season and aim to set them up for success at the Olympic Trials in just over a year.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity because I think you see what they have in their dynamics,” Middaugh said. “That’s a huge part of the game, especially in the ladies’ (competition), is that in those stressful situations they come together instead of kind of fighting it.

“So I think the opportunities and the (potential) successes for them are endless.”

Middaugh’s addition comes as a disjointed curling season gets underway on an regional basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fleury joined Winnipeg-area teammates Selena Njegovan, Liz Fyfe and Kristin MacCuish two years ago after they parted ways with Kerri Einarson, who skipped them to a silver medal at the 2018 Scotties.

The Sudbury, Ont., resident was a smooth fit, guiding the team to a Masters win on the Grand Slam circuit last year and a top-three position in the national and world rankings.

Middaugh, who has previously coached at the U18 and U21 levels, was a four-time bronze medallist at the Scotties and reached the Olympic Trials final in 2013 before falling to Jennifer Jones.

Fleury said she’s hoping Middaugh’s wealth of experience will prove invaluable in their pursuit of that elusive Scotties crown and push toward the Trials.

“That’ll be a huge asset to our team for sure,” she said from Sudbury. “She’s played in a lot of high-profile events. A lot of big games. So I think we can definitely draw on that.”

Fleury’s team used a variety of coaching resources last season. Longtime Jones second Jill Officer served as coach at the Manitoba playdowns last winter.

Middaugh said she has “always been enamoured” with the team’s personality and skillset.

“Tracy exudes that calm confidence,” she said from Victoria Harbour, Ont. “I love their style of play, which is huge because when you bring on a coach or a fifth player, you need to have that similar viewpoint.

“I see a lot of me in Tracy, the way she calls the game and I think it’s absolutely fantastic.”

Fleury has worn four different sets of colours over five career appearances at the Scotties.

She represented Ontario in her nationals debut in 2012 and has also skipped Northern Ontario and Manitoba teams. Fleury was a wild-card entry last season but lost the play-in game to Jones.

Fleury, a 2019 Canada Cup finalist, has made two career appearances at the pre-Trials but has yet to qualify for the main Trials. The Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings is set to begin in late November 2021.

“Our team was talking about who we wanted to bring on board and Sherry’s name came up and we thought she would be an excellent fit for our team,” Fleury said. “So I reached out to her and it just so happened she was considering getting into coaching.

“So the timing was right and the fit seems great.”

It has been a few years since Middaugh played on the elite women’s scene but she has kept busy with senior competitions. She said Fleury first approached her about a year ago but the timing didn’t work out.

“When she called again, I just thought this is fantastic, right leading up to the Olympic year,” Middaugh said. “I’ve always been impressed with Tracy and the girls.

“I know that they’re a fairly new team but you can just tell from their experiences and the success they’ve already had that they’re going somewhere.”

Fleury, who had a baby girl last July, said the ice at her local club is expected to go in early next month. She has had regular video calls with her teammates, who have been practising in Manitoba.

They are aiming to compete at the Nov. 27-30 Dekalb Superspiel in Morris, Man.

“I think we’re going to have to just be adaptable this year,” Fleury said. “Things kind of change day to day. But as of right now, we are planning to play about four or five events.”

Middaugh’s husband, Wayne, has also transitioned to the coaching scene. He started working with Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg – the top-ranked reigning Olympic champions – two years ago.

“When you’re working with a high-level team that’s already had success, you don’t want to get in their way,” Sherry Middaugh said. “So for me it’s going to be observing and asking a lot of questions of them of what they want for me, because they have had success.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we just have to figure out what little piece they’re missing to have them go that one step farther and build towards the Olympic Trials.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2020.

curling

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Employee at Bethany CollegeSide in Red Deer tests positive for COVID-19

An employee at a Red Deer continuing care facility has tested positive… Continue reading

The Government of Alberta has identified 1,828 new cases and 15 new COVID-19-related deaths, which brings the provincial death toll to 590. (File photo)
Alberta identifies 1,828 new COVID-19 cases on Friday

Central zone has 1,251 active cases

Higher sales of cannabis helped Canadian farmers come out in the green. (Black Press Media File)
Drumheller RCMP lay charge for unlawfully distributing cannabis

A joint forces investigation involving the AGLC investigation team partnered with Drumheller… Continue reading

Three weapons have been seized and four people are facing charges following a police operation in central Alberta. (Photo contributed by RCMP)
RCMP, Lacombe Police seize loaded guns, arrest four people

Four people have been arrested and multiple prohibited firearms are off the… Continue reading

The Salvation Army's 2020 Christmas Kettle Campaign includes a new $5 tap feature for pandemic-friendly donations. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Salvation Army officers safe, touchless options for Kettle donation this year

The Salvation Army in Red Deer needs help. Kettle donations are needed… Continue reading

Dan Cochrane, senior pastor at CrossRoads Church. Contributed photo
CrossRoads Church closes its doors for two weeks after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

CrossRoads Church made the decision to cancel in-house services for two weeks… Continue reading

Montreal Alouettes' Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a “laggard” on homophobia in sports

Study finds Canada a “laggard” on homophobia in sports

Canada's Kadeisha Buchanan (3) and Mexico's Jacqueline Ovalle (11) battle for the ball during a CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying soccer match Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Edinburg, Texas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Delcia Lopez
Lyon defender Kadeisha Buchanan named Canadian Women’s Player of the Year

Lyon defender Kadeisha Buchanan named Canadian Women’s Player of the Year

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Andrew Harris celebrates his touchdown against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the first half of the 107th Grey Cup in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. Running back Andrew Harris, who was instrumental in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers ending their Grey Cup drought in 2019, tops the CFL team's list of potential free agents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Grey Cup MVP, top Canadian Harris among Winnipeg Blue Bombers potential free agents

Grey Cup MVP, top Canadian Harris among Winnipeg Blue Bombers potential free agents

24Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet (23) goes up for a shot agains the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.. Watching Connor McDavid let a slapshot fly or Fred VanVleet sink a deep three can be a salve to the soul of a sports fan run down by the difficult realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark J. Terrill
Bubbles are best: experts say return of sports risky as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Bubbles are best: experts say return of sports risky as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Coastal Carolina's Grayson McCall (10) scrambles past Texas State's Nico Ezidore (95) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in San Marcos, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chuck Burton
BYU presents tough challenge for Chanticleers, Canadian Makonzo this weekend

BYU presents tough challenge for Chanticleers, Canadian Makonzo this weekend

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, arrives at B.C. Supreme Court to attend a hearing, in Vancouver, on Friday, November 27, 2020. The U.S. Department of Justice is refusing to comment on media reports that its lawyers are seeking a plea deal of sorts with Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PM won’t confirm reports U.S. Justice Department seeking plea deal with Meng Wanzhou

PM won’t confirm reports U.S. Justice Department seeking plea deal with Meng Wanzhou

Alek Minassian is shown in a handout photo from his LinkedIn page. A psychiatrist retained by the defence will testify for a fifth consecutive day today at the trial for the man behind Toronto's van attack. Dr. Alexander Westphal says Alek Minassian does not truly understand the moral wrongfulness of killing 10 people, but says criminal responsibility is a legal opinion, not a psychiatric one. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
‘I know what I did was morally wrong,’ Alek Minassian told psychiatrist, court hears

‘I know what I did was morally wrong,’ Alek Minassian told psychiatrist, court hears

A look at what provinces and territories have said about COVID-19 vaccine plans

A look at what provinces and territories have said about COVID-19 vaccine plans

Most Read