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Brier bound

Wesley Forget, a residence life coordinator and a graduate of Queen's, is part of Team Ontario at the Canadian men's curling championship.

[Wesley Forget holds up the purple heart he received for winning the Ontario Curling Championship.]
As part of the team that won the Ontario Men’s Curling Championship, Wesley Forget (Artsci'14), a residence life coordinator at Queen's, received the purple heart, a coveted recognition for curlers across the province. (University Communicatioons)

Wesley Forget has achieved a dream – he’s going to the Brier.

Forget, a residence life coordinator at Queen’s, is a member of the foursome that recently won the Ontario Men’s Curling Championship, and with the title earned a ticket to the national finals in Brandon Man., from March 2-10.

Days after earning his first purple heart – a badge presented to those qualifying for the Tim Hortons Brier – Forget, who throws second stones for Team Scott McDonald, was still coming to grips with the achievement.

“Every night, if you love curling, you go to bed dreaming of going to the Brier but also knowing that you may never get a chance,” says Forget (Artsci’14) . “So I don’t know if I’ve exactly come to terms with the fact that I am going to be walking out at the opening ceremonies at the Brier for Team Ontario because it’s been that thing of dreams, that thing you see on television. It’s like any hockey player who has dreamed of playing in the NHL. This is the NHL of curling.”

Also on the team are two other Queen’s alumni – Jonathan Beuk (Artsci’10) and Scott Chadwick (Sc’13). The three live in Kingston and curl out of the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club, while McDonald lives in London.

[Team McDonald celebrates winning the Tankard]
Team McDonald celebrate after winning the Ontario Men's Curling Championship on Sunday, Feb. 3 in Elmira. The team will now represent the province at the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier in Brandon, Man. From left: Scott McDonald, skip; Jonathan Beuk (Artsci’10), third; Scott Chadwick (Sc’13), lead; and Wesley Forget (Artsci’14), second. (CurlOn photo)

Heading into the provincial tournament, the team was not favoured to take the title. However, they ran the table, finishing with a perfect record of 11-0.

During the final in Elmira against Team John Epping, the defending champions, Forget and his teammates jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after two ends. The Cataraqui team grabbed another deuce in the fourth end while holding Epping to singles in the third and fifth ends. In the sixth McDonald made a great angle, double takeout for two more points to push the lead to 8-2. Team Epping had enough. They conceded, turned, and shook hands.

For a moment, time stood still.

Then reality kicked in for Forget and his teammates. They were Ontario champions. They were going to the Brier.

“I just went and hugged my mom immediately because she’s been there the entire time,” Forget recalls. “She’s actually the reason I got involved in curling. I started curling because of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. My mom turned on the TV and curling was on. I said I wanted to do that. She called the curling club that week and I was on the ice.”

Forget already has an impressive curling resume. He won an OUA silver medal with the Gaels in 2017 and won the 2016 Travelers Curling Club Championship, both as skip. Earlier this season he was part of the team that won the Ontario mixed title. With their win at the Tankard, his current team is now ranked 12th in the world.

After the final, Forget spent hours responding to well-wishes and messages while also thanking those who have supported him along the way.

“I didn’t sleep on Sunday night because there’s too much … it took me two to three hours to get through social media content, messages, responding, thinking about all the people who helped us get here,” he says.

The team now has three weeks to get ready for the Brier. That means plenty of practice on the ice but also preparing mentally for the added pressure of competing for the national title in an arena that seats more than 5,000 and with hundreds of thousands more watching on TV.

The pressure can break players.

“We are getting some extra coaching to be ready but I don’t think I will know how I feel until I walk out there during the opening ceremonies,” Forget says.

Among those providing support as Forget chases his dream is his other team – his co-workers in Queen’s University Residences – including one who will be going to the Brier to cheer him on, as well as members of the Cataraqui Golf and Country Club.