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'With somebody who has your back': Mixed Nationals in Swift Current brings national champion curling family together

The Mixed Curling Nationals in Swift Current brought a national champion curling family together.

Team Nova Scotia’s Colleen Jones has a tight knit bond with her team as she curls with her son, Luke Saunders and future daughter in law, Marlee Powers.

Jones had won with Team Nova Scotia in 1993 when the championships were also held in Swift Current and she was pregnant with her son and now teammate, Luke.

“I was playing with my husband Scott [Saunders] and I was pregnant the with Luke at the time. I just remember after every game, just being so darn tired, just going home and having a big ol’ sleep because I was cooking a baby,” she laughed.

Jones shared how she introduced Saunders to the sport from the moment he was out of the womb.

“He was sitting in the basket behind the sheet when he was a baby. He’s heard the sound of rocks clanking for 30 years. As a curler, it was my dream that he would play the sport and love the sport,” she said.

Saunders said every time he’s on the ice, he’s thinking about his mom and the family connection to the sport.

“She had sisters who curled early on in her career. Barb Jones, (Barbara Jones-Gordon), Monica Moriarty (formerly Monica Jones), my father as well. He won this in ‘93. His brothers, Kent Saunders, Bruce Saunders, Sally Saunders,” he explained on how his roots run deep in curling.

However, his connection with his mom will always be one he cherishes on another level.

“She’s there for me. I know that I can call her and we can kind of get in that (bon)spiel or tournament anytime. So it’s nice to know you’re with somebody who has your back and you can kind of give a call and get out there on the ice anytime with and play,” he said.

Saunders did not initially pick curling as his primary sport even with two parents heavily invested.

“Luke is a tennis player first and foremast and curling was a secondary thing. So even to this day, he still plays competitive tennis. I used to drag him to the rink from the time he was probably two days old so that I could keep practicing and he was hanging around curling clubs. We had a toy box there for him so he wasn’t bored,” Jones said.

“Then he started coming on the ice, just sort of kicking it to the first house and then he’d go a little further. But then hockey and tennis were his primary things. He always enjoying coming out and throwing rocks though so low and behold he got on a team and I’m like, ‘I don’t want to force it’ and then it was a dream come true. He went to a Canadian Junior and I think that hooked him,” she added

Saunders does have some pretty big shoes to fill when it comes to his mom who is a six-time Scotties (Canadian Women’s) champion and member of the Canada Sports Hall of Fame. Saunders competed in his first Brier (Canadian Men’s Championship) last year.

“I heard it when I played the Brier. You know I heard, ‘That’s Colleen Jones’ son!’ But I mean nothing makes me prouder, right? I’m a mama’s boy at heart. You know, happy to hear it anytime I can get it,” Saunders said proudly.

As for how the two decided to take the leap and curl together in the mixed category, they both say it only made sense.

“She taught me how to curl and she’s brought me up with it. Even to this day, we still go out and throw rocks together,” Saunders explained. “So I think it just sort of made sense just to sort of go out and play some mix. It’s usually in the shoulder season, it works well with the calendar as well.”

“I played with sisters my whole life so I was used to [playing with family] but I thoroughly enjoy playing with him. You know you’ve got a deep connection. You want the best for them. But to think I grew up sort of teaching him how to play and that now he’s more or less the teacher because he might know more than me,” Jones said.

Jones is the team’s lead while Saunders plays second. Their team is rounded out by Skip Paul Flemming and third Marlee Powers, who is Saunders’ fiancé.

Both say they are ecstatic to be competing in Saskatchewan for the mixed title especially given the connection from 30 years ago.

“Anytime you play in Saskatchewan, you feel you’re at the heartland and heartbeat of curling. So [from] 30 years ago to be back now, when I’m old and, you know, tail end of my career, but you can never tell a person who has been this competitive as I am that it’s the end, because in your heart you’re fighting and you just want to play. To have a co-conspirator of the sport, somebody who loves the sport, and I’m able to pass it on, I’m happy for him for that,” Jones said.

“Curling by nature is just a family sport and I think you’re seeing at this event in a lot of teams here. I think Swift Current is a great host for this event. You can tell the fans love their curling,” added Saunders. Top Stories

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