Giving back to curling and community

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Katie Brickman
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England sees changes in curling game

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Judy England has been volunteering for the past 26 years and has relished every opportunity she has been given.

“I really enjoy it,” she said from her spot in the media room at Mosaic Place for the Capital One Curling Cup of Canada. “I like meeting everyone and the atmosphere is wonderful.”

England is originally from Winnipeg and moved to Moose Jaw and farmed with her husband for many years. When her first husband passed away, she remarried Les England and has called Moose Jaw home for the past 45 years.

Volunteering has always been a part of England’s life, as she was part of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Regina as well as the Cancer Society and for Wakamow Valley in Moose Jaw.  

She was involved with curling before her son, Shannon and Sandra Schmirler married in 1993, but the involvement grew with the passion Sandra showed for the sport.

“We sure miss Sandra and this is the time we think about her - during curling,” she said.

Schmirler was born and raised in Biggar and became the face of women’s curling for the province. Her rink of Jan Betker, Joan Inglis (McCusker) and Marcia Gudereit had great success provincially, nationally and internationally.

Schmirler was married to Del Peterson, but they separated in 1992 and divorced a year later. She remarried Shannon England in 1993 and they were together for six and half years before Schmirler passed away from cancer in 2000, only two months after giving birth to their second daughter, Jenna. Their eldest daughter, Sara was two at the time of her untimely death.

Sara is now 13 years old and Jenna is 12 years old and both curl, but not competitively. Shannon raised the two girls himself with the help of his and Sandra’s family.

England stated that although Sandra has been gone for 12 years, her legacy still lives on through other curlers, like those here in Moose Jaw for the week and the Sandra Schmirler Foundation.

“This is the best of the best,” said England. “Many people still look up to Sandra and her teammates.”

With the top seven men’s and women’s teams in the Friendly City for the Canada Cup, England explained just how much the game has changed from her time and Sandra’s time.

“The game has changed quite a bit. The stats and the rules are quite different,” she said. “It used to be a gentlemen’s game, but it much more competitive now.”

England hopes an event like this will inspire a younger generation to get into curling, especially now that they can meet and talk with the top curlers in the country.

“I sure hope so, these kids can actually see their idols,” she said.

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