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Stephenville curler Chantel Newell earns spot on 2015 Canada Games team


STEPHENVILLE - Don't be alarmed when you hear that a 15-year-old Stephenville youth gets amped up about casting stones.

The stones being thrown in this case are curling rocks.

Chantel Newell, a junior curler at the Caribou Curling Club, will get a chance to showcase her stone-throwing ability at the 2015 Canada Winter Games as a member of the province's female curling team. The Level 2 student at Stephenville High earned a berth on the team at a selection camp for prospects in St. John's earlier this month.

"I was so excited to find out," Newell said tryout session held in St. John's earlier this month to select both the female and male team for the 2015 Games. "There were a lot of girls at the tryouts and we didn't know who was going to make the team and a couple of my friends from Stephenville tried out to too and we were hoping to make it on together it but I was the only one from Stephenville,"

She admits she was disappointed some of her close friends and fellow curlers from the Caribou Club weren't able to make the team, but she's quite content to make the most of the opportunity with a group of girls she has gotten to know over the past couple of years through competing against them at various provincial tournaments.

"We know each other pretty good by now," she said of what she expects will be an easy adjustment.

Newell has honed her skills over the past couple of years suiting up with an Under-18 female rink from the Caribou Curling Club. That group of curlers has become very close over the years and that has certainly kept Newell completely immersed in the sport because she loves the chance to forge new friendships with others who share her flare for the sport.

She has never had the pleasure of winning a provincial U-18 crown with the Jaime McNeil-Lamswood rink that includes Lauren Newell, Kaitlyn Humphries and Rebecca Roberts, but this group of girls had a fun time and took time to brag to family and friends after winning a bronze at the Atlantic U-18 female curling championship held last year in Stephenville.

"We haven't got first yet, but we've got second a couple of times," she said of the junior rink she enjoys being part of at the Caribou Curling Club.

The sport of curling, well it's not just a hobby and a way to hang out with her friends. It's defined her as a person despite her youthfulness. The sport has captured her imagination and she has earned a reputation as a curler who works hard and wants to get better with each stone tossed.

"It's my life. I curl sometimes four or five times a week. I just love it," she said. "I go down there some days and I feel like I just have to get out on the ice. It's my favourite thing to do. I love it."

Being part of a team provides her with a lot of fun times and she gets to understand some of the finer things in life such as the importance of team members being on the same page if they want to achieve a common goal.

Yes, she is somewhat of a social butterfly who is excited to meet some new friends from coast to coast at the Games.

But, the sport has proven to be challenging and she's eager to tackle whatever comes her way because it's what she loves to do.

"Each end is different and it keeps you thinking," she said. "It's a very mental game. You have to strategize and you have to be on your game all the time."

Time will tell just how focused Newell and her supporting cast fare against the country's top curlers in British Columbia, but Stephenville junior curling co-ordinator Sherri McNeil has no doubt Newell will be a great ambassador for both the province and the curling club she proudly calls home.

"She is a hard worker and very intelligent," McNeil said. "She's very committed to the sport."

McNeil isn't surprised to see Newell earn a spot because she has seen her develop into a dedicated curler who spends every chance she can get throwing stones.

It's something being celebrated by the entire curling community in Stephenville.

"I think it's great for our curling club, but it's also nice to see somebody from the western part of the province get a spot on the team," McNeil said.

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