Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Meakin to coach Stoughton team

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JUST days removed from winning his historic 10th Manitoba men's curling champion, Jeff Stoughton has scored another coup.

Stoughton has taken on former world men's curling champion Rob Meakin as his team's new coach.

Meakin is the former longtime national team coach for the United States Curling Association and coached for the Americans at world championships and multiple Winter Olympics, in addition to coaching locally -- most recently as coach of daughter, Breanne Meakin, and her former team, skipped by Cathy Overton-Clapham.

With the Overton-Clapham team now disbanded, Stoughton said he jumped at the chance to land Meakin as his team's coach for the upcoming Brier and -- if both parties are happy with how that goes -- next December's Canadian Curling Trials, where Canada's men's and women's teams for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will be determined.

"We've got it all pencilled in and if things go well, we hope to have him with us, hopefully, all the way right to the Olympics," Stoughton said Wednesday.

The Stoughton team previously had Norm Gould as their team's coach, but that arrangement became awkward, Stoughton said, after the team parted ways last year with lead -- and Gould's brother -- Steve Gould.

The fact Meakin and Stoughton have known each other for over 20 years -- and even won a Canadian mixed title together in 1988 -- just made the fit even easier.

Meakin has among the deepest coaching resumés in all of curling and his wealth of international experience -- especially at the Olympics -- made him a sought after commodity when his daughter's team had a poor showing in the provincials in Stonewall and he became available.

"Everyone is so good right now, that we're all just trying to find a little edge here or there," explained Stoughton. "If we can get a two per cent advantage out of Rob, that'd be perfect -- that'd be unbelievable. So that's what we're hoping for -- some good feedback.

"And to his credit, he's said over and over again, 'You guys have had some success and I don't want to get in the way.' It should be really good, I think."

In addition to a wealth of coaching experience, Meakin, of course, has also won at the highest level -- taking down a world championship in 1995 as second for Kerry Burtnyk.

There's also personnel news this week out of the Jennifer Jones squad. The Jones foursome flew from Winnipeg to Kingston, Ont., on Wednesday -- in advance of representing Manitoba at the Canadian women's curling championship beginning on Saturday -- with new alternate, Kristin MacCuish. MacCuish, 20, was the second on last year's Shannon Birchard junior foursome that won silver at the Canadian Juniors. She replaces longtime Jones alternate Jennifer Clark-Rouire.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 14, 2013 D4

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