© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Three-time Olympian Kevin Martin traded in his curling broom to spend time on the ball diamonds in Prince Albert on the weekend as he was in the city to coach the under-12 Edmonton Warriors in the Girls Prairie League Softball playoffs. Heavy rain played havoc with the scheduling, but it didn't dampen Martin's mood for when he was the guest speaker at the awards banquet on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre.
Three-time Olympian Kevin Martin spent the weekend in Prince Albert and the curling star looks just as comfortable on a ball diamond as he does on a sheet of ice.
After spending a soggy day on the diamonds coaching his youngest daughter‚Äôs Edmonton Warriors‚Äô squirt (under-12) team, Martin took centre stage Saturday evening as the guest speaker for the Girls Prairie League Softball awards banquet.
A ball player growing up in central Alberta, Martin likens the competitiveness of both sports and after receiving a standing ovation when introduced at the banquet he offered plenty of words of encouragement to the 400 elite ball players from Saskatchewan and Alberta.
‚ÄúThe more you practise and the harder you work, your fair share (of success) will come up,‚ÄĚ said Martin. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs important to bring your ‚ÄúA‚ÄĚ game to every game.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúYou all have the abilities and talent, you just need to know you can do it,‚ÄĚ added Martin.
To emphasis this point, Martin related a story that goes back more than 20 years when he won his first national men‚Äôs curling championship. Unaware that a victory in the final game at the 1991 Brier would also get him into the Olympics as Canada‚Äôs representative in Albertville, France, when curling was just a demonstration sport, he focused on what needed to be done and then enjoyed the added benefits later.
Martin has enjoyed a lot of those benefits over the years having won 12 Alberta curling championships and four national titles. He has one world championship to his credit and an Olympic gold medal in 2010 in Vancouver and a silver medal in Salt Lake City in 2002.
Martin was also instrumental in forming the World Curling Tour which has changed the landscape of the game considerably in the last 20 years. Prior to the WCT, curlers all needed second jobs to survive financially, but now with increased prize money and additional sponsorships, elite curlers can make a healthy living playing the game. As an example, Martin and his rinks over the years have won a record 14 Grand Slam titles and more than $2 million in prize money.
Although he is still old school and has his own sports store among other interests, Martin says the introduction of the Girls Prairie League Softball will have the same effect in developing the game without the obvious financial implications.
‚ÄúThis is something that has been needed for a very long time,‚ÄĚ said Martin who was an assistant coach for his older daughter‚Äôs team before becoming head coach with his current club. ‚ÄúIt can only help develop the level of play for the athletes involved.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe GPLS is very competitive,‚ÄĚ added Martin. ‚ÄúThey are putting a lot of effort in and not forgetting to have a lot of fun and that is important.‚ÄĚ
Martin, who runs summer curling schools when not coaching ball, is also getting ready for a new phase of his curling career. When long-time third John Morris left the team at the end of the season, Martin went searching for a replacement and, if nothing else, the rink became stronger with the addition of David Nedohin, a key player on Randy Ferbey‚Äôs four national championship teams.
‚ÄúLosing Johnny wasn‚Äôt great, but adding Dave ‚Äď holy cow,‚ÄĚ said Martin. ‚ÄúHe doesn‚Äôt miss too many shots and we had to watch that a lot over the years.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs pretty exciting moving forward,‚ÄĚ added Martin.
Martin says the new rink, which also has Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert along with his son Karrick as the alternate, had its first team meeting this week to initiate a training program so that they are ready for when the season arrives.
Having already secured a spot in the Olympic Trials in Winnipeg in December, the season has a lot of promise. Before that begins, however, he has a lot of days to spend on the diamond and he couldn‚Äôt be happier.