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Buckeye curling squads to enter HoF

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The Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association Hall of Fame induction ceremony is going to have some world championship cachet.

The hall will induct the 1970-72 Miles Macdonell Collegiate women’s curling team, which won the provincial championship all three years. Chris and Cathy Pidzarko were on the team all three seasons, with Chris skipping the 1972 team to victory. Maureen Jackson was the skip in 1970 and 1971. Margaret Sader rounded out the 1970 squad, Gaye Birchall replaced her in 1971, and Janet Walker and Linda Walker teamed up with the Pidzarkos in 1972.

In 1984, Chris Pidzarko, known then as Chris More, was on Connie Laliberte’s world championship team in Perth, Scotland. She was also a third on the national championship team skipped by sister Cathy in 1978, but the world championship bonspiel didn’t start until the following year, where Chris skipped a team to provincial victory, but fell in the final to British Columbia’s Lindsay Sparkes rink, which represented Canada in Perth. She also skipped the 1989 provincial champion rink, but lost in the final to Team Canada’s Heather Houston.

Now living in Westwood and known as Chris Scalena, she is thrilled to be going into the hall with all three of her teams.

"It was nice that all the teams got inducted so it included all the girls that my sister and I both played with," she said.

Scalena recalls the 1972 provincial bonspiel, which was held in Snow Lake, located approximately 700 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. She said the long travel, the hospitality of the billet families, and some new opportunities in the northern frontier stood out to her.

"We had a bus, and a lot of the teams coming up from the south were on the bus," she said. "I don’t remember a lot about the curling part, but I remember for something special, they took us all out on snowmobiles, and I remember that the most."

Scalena recalls her family flooding a backyard curling rink that was enjoyed by the neighbourhood, adding she also played jam-can curling at Neil Campbell School and in Rossmere Curling Club’s junior program growing up.

"We got to play all the time, not only at school," she said. "We had the best house in the neighbourhood, because everybody would come and want to play."

Scalena acknowledged there were some doubts as a teenager as to whether getting up early on Saturday mornings to trudge to the rink was worth it — even after winning three consecutive junior titles from 1972 -74 — but began to feel like the hard work was paying off with the first national title in 1978.

"It was fun, but it just was juniors," she said. "You go out, you play, and you win. ‘Oh yeah, that’s good.’ But when you get into the ladies’ competition, it gets to be a little more meaningful, more of an accomplishment, I suppose."

Scalena now curls recreationally out of the Thistle Curling Club, and concentrates heavily on golf now.

At Miles Mac, she and Cathy, who now lives in Toronto, participated in a wide variety of sports. She recalls being on the basketball, volleyball, and track and field teams.

"Wouldn’t high school be boring if you didn’t have anything else to do?" she said. "It’s more than just going to study and doing the exams.

"It was fun to be involved, and it was great because you met a lot of really nice people. We just happened to be successful."

The induction ceremony will be May 10 at Holiday Inn South (1330 Pembina Hwy.).
Twitter: @HeraldWPG

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