With success in their first season together, Team Cinnamon has even greater aspirations for the 2018-19 curling season.
It may seem early, but the team has already laid out its extensive schedule and established team goals for the season. They've been continuing their dryland training and before you know it they will be participating in two top-level curling camps in August. One of those camps is specially designed for the four teams vying to represent Alberta in the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
Team Cinnamon was forged of players from two teams who competed against each other for several seasons before they decided to join forces for the 2016-17 season. The natural chemistry between skip Zoe Cinnamon, 16, third Justine Hagey, 15, second Elspeth Cooper, 16, and Raelyn Helston, 14, has seen the team excel. They placed top four in all their bonspiels and peaked with a second place finish in Red Deer.
In March pre-trial, the Cochrane foursome came second and became one of four women's teams vying to represent Alberta in the winter games. The trials are being held in Red Deer in November but prior to that they'll have many bonspiels under their belt and will have participated in a camp specifically for the four finalists.
"They really have something special," says team manager Dawn-Marie Cinnamon, mother of Zoe. "There's a little bit of magic there."
"They were the most talked about team last year. I think it's because of what they have off the ice. They all have the same dedication and focus and commitment to their curling. They all want the same goals and I think it blends well."
David Cooper, who was recently elected president of the Cochrane Curling Club and is father to Elspeth, agrees, noting their friendship extends beyond the rink, something that isn't necessarily common on other teams.
"They wanted to play together and they get on well. They are pretty solid off the ice which means when they're on the ice they are, too."
"There are some big challenges, but they've done well. They don't win every game, but they have a chance to win every game."
While they did compete in some U21 events last year, the focus was on their U18 play. That is changing this year. In fact, their first three bonspiels of the season are U21 bonspiels in Calgary, Lethbridge and Red Deer on the Alberta Junior Curling Tour (AJCT) which ranks teams from their play during the season.
This season they have a long list of goals in U18 play and they are topped by representing Alberta in the national games, but also includes continuing to place top four in all their events, win two AJCT events and one other event, represent Southern Alberta at the 2019 U18 Provincials, finish first in U18 AJCT standings and qualify for the AJCT players championship. In the tougher U21 play they want to place top four in two events and qualify for the players championship.
With curling experience ranging from seven to nine years, all four already have some great achievements in and out of the sport. In fact, all four competed against each other in last winter's mixed double event (teams formed of one girl and one boy) of the Alberta Winter Games. They were four of the seven girls participating provincewide.
Having success in their first season together has helped inspire the team.
"We did really well for our first season in juvenile," says Elspeth.
"And as a team, we had never curled together. We weren't sure how it would go but it worked well."
They have the drive to do well and keep long-term goals in mind.
"Scotties, that would be cool," says Raelyn. "But that's a big goal."
Like any athlete aspiring for excellence, it takes a great deal of time and experience, and the costs add up. Expenses can easily surpass $5,000 for each team member and they have had several sponsors step forward and welcome more. There are platinum, gold, silver and bronze sponsorship packages offered and for each, there is payback provided by the team.
"Sponsors get a lot for their money," says Cooper. "We want to support you as a company because you are helping support the team."
There's only one platinum sponsorship of $2,000 available and it offers the most perks. There are several advertising opportunities provided plus each team member will volunteer at a company event and offer a learn to curl clinic for up to 25 people.
The Cinnamon Team appreciates all their sponsors, who now include: gold, Cochrane Curling Club and Willcor; silver, Roemira Projects, Mountain Vista Law, Sunset Ridge Pharmacy and Tony Hailu at TD Wealth; bronze, Bow River Chiropractic, Cochrane Family Vision. LifeSmiles Dental and Rix Orthodontics.
Those wanting more information on sponsorship opportunities can contact Dawn-Marie at [email protected] or phone 403-607-2170.