Team Kleiter couldn’t be happier to be back on the pebbled ice at their home rink, the Sutherland Curling Club.
After a lengthy off-season, the four young men are preparing for the 2021 curling season — their first since aging out from junior.
However, this season hasn’t come without its hardships, as the long-tenured team continues to learn and perfect the perfect balance between life and curling.
“We had the longest break off that we’ve had from curling in a long time,” skip Rylan Kleiter said.
“So, we’re all ready to get back on the ice, and we’re putting in all (that) we’ve got.”
The familiar comforts of the Sutherland, the rink hosting all high-performance curlers in Saskatchewan this year, makes it easier for the team to balance out sports and life.
Kleiter, lead Matthieu Taillon, and third Joshua Mattern are all taking it in stride. All three are currently enrolled in online classes at the University of Saskatchewan.
“(It’s) definitely taking some flexibility and some juggling,” Kleiter said. “But now that we’re kind of getting into a routine, it’s nice to just be able to come out and throw some rocks when you want, and then really focus on class time when you need to as well.”
“I find now with the remote school you can kind of do things when you want,” Mattern added. “You’re not stuck to your school hours all of the time. So it’s been nice in that sense, but yeah, it’s definitely been an adjustment, for sure.”
The three students — taking accounting, engineering, and veterinary medicine — aren’t the only ones with commitments away from the rink. Team second Trevor Johnson spends his days installing cabinets.
On the days that practices follow a hard shift at work, Johnson’s approach to getting ready at the rink is simple.
“Well, first is a large coffee,” he chuckled. “Then it’s just joking around with the guys, (that) wakes me up too.”
The team has been playing together since high school, and the bonds forged over that time have allowed them to grow comfortable enough with one another that they can lean on each other whenever the balancing act between life and curling begins to take its toll.
“Since we’ve played so long together we just know each other’s ins and outs, and how to pick each other up when we’re down, and just get the best out of everybody,” Kleiter said.
“We’ve all been together so long, and we’ve also gone through it all before, which helps. All of those years going to provincials and nationals, also doing school on the side,” Mattern added.
“So, yeah, it’s nice to have been through it with these guys, for sure — it makes it easier.”
Their strong bond of friendship coupled with a love for the sport of curling keeps this squad extremely competitive on the ice, even during those early Friday morning practices.
“I find it’s a lot easier to get up for curling than for school, so, they’ve been alright,” Mattern chuckled.