April 23rd, 2024

Whittmire finishes rookie season a champion

By Lethbridge Herald on April 4, 2024.

Submitted Photo Ayden Whittmire, with his parents Christina and Kevin, holds the USPORTS Championship trophy.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

Local curler Ayden Whittmire had a first season to remember as a member of the University of Regina Cougars men’s curling team.

While he was an alternate, he did see playing time in the recent U Sports Championship in Fredericton, where the Cougars were crowned champions after beating Dalhousie University 8-5 in the final and earned a berth in the FISU Winter World University Games as Team Canada next January in Italy.

“It was super cool,” said Whittmire.

“In the moment, it’s hard to even put it into words. It was super special; it was an up and down week and our guys just played out of their minds on the Saturday. So that’s what we needed.”

Whittmire thought they started nationals off slow and found momentum as the week went along.

“Our coach, Jamie (Schneider), he helped us out a ton just tracking the ice, and the rocks, and all the other teams and just keeping our heads in the game,” said Whittmire.

“I think … overall it was just a big team effort, and everyone played their part and it just worked out for us.”

He plans to find some ice in the off season to train on for the world games.

“I think it’ll just be a lot more practice,” he said.

“So I’m from Lethbridge and the rest of the guys are from Regina. So it might involve me coming back out to Regina and practicing a bit and just off season training, trying to get stronger and just get better so we can perform in Italy.”

Whittmire talked about being a rookie on the team.

“It’s a big commitment,” he said.

“A lot of practices. Like I said the other four guys play quite a bit as well. So lots of time spent at the rink, lots of time spent with coach Jamie. Throughout the (championship)week, I learned a lot from him just about managing conditions and just a lot about big events that (I) never even considered.”

Whittmire learned a lot from his teammates Carter Williamson, Adam Bukurak and Josh Bryden.

“So just getting the chance to play with them and learn from their experiences, yeah I think it helped me a ton,” he said.

Whittmire wasn’t the only successful local curler that week as Kayleigh Shannon skipped for  the SAIT Trojans women’s team that won a silver medal at the Canadian College Athletic Association championship silver in Fredericton.

SAIT lost 8-5 to Concordia in 10 ends in the final.

“A silver medal at nationals felt amazing, said Shannon.

“This was my first college nationals of my career, so we went in with open minds of what was going to happen. We went 6-1 going into playoffs which was also an accomplishment in (itself).”

SAIT’s game plan going into nationals was to not let things out of their control get to them.

“So that is what we did and we executed it very well,” said Shannon.

“Our team performed very well, as two of us got 1st team and 2nd team all-stars which showed we played the best of anyone in our position.”

Shannon thinks the team will take what they learned at nationals and build on that for next season.

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