Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton hasn't slowed down despite 28 years as a competitive curler.
MOOSE JAW — Stefanie Lawton’s love of curling hasn’t cooled during a lifetime devoted to the roaring game.
“I still have that passion for the game and it’s competing at this level that I just love,” the 39-year-old Saskatchewan third said during a break at the Canadian women’s curling championship at Mosaic Place.
“I love going out there and making great shots. It’s having that passion while working, building and growing with a team. It’s all of those things that make curling so great.”
Lawton is making her sixth appearance in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and her second in a row with Team Saskatchewan’s Robyn Silvernagle.
Lawton won Saskatchewan junior women’s titles in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001. In 2000, she added a Canadian championship and second-place finish at the world junior championships.
At the women’s level, Lawton captured provincial titles in 2005, 2009, 2014 and 2015 as a skip. However, a national women’s title remains elusive.
“It’s one of those goals that I’ve had in my mind for a long time,” Lawton said. “I’m definitely working toward that. I always like to think that things will take care of themselves and if you work hard that it will come.
Lawton remains committed to competitive curling despite the changes in her off-ice life. Lawton and her husband, Mike, have two children — Kate (eight) and Eric (five). As a chartered accountant with Cameco, Lawton juggles family and vocational life away from curling.
“I know it’s hard because there’s being a mom and having two kids,” she said. “They’re getting busier with sports and I want to watch them play and keep going with that. I want to see them succeed and just watch how they blossom in their environment with their friends and their sports. I really enjoy watching that.”
Lawton added that her family members are among her biggest supporters.
“Kate just loves it,” said Lawton, who has been curling since she was 11. “(Before the Scotties) she was making signs, getting decked out, and she couldn’t wait to watch me. She’s like, ‘Mommy, you have to curl forever so I can keep watching you.’ I’m like, ‘OK, forever is a long time.’ Eric isn’t quite there yet.”
Championship-level curling has deep roots in Lawton’s family.
Bob Miller, Lawton’s father and long-time coach, won the 1969 Canadian junior men’s championship and 16 years later captured a provincial men’s title as the third with Saskatoon’s Eugene Hritzuk.
Ryan Miller, Stefanie’s brother, was a Saskatchewan junior men’s champion in 1997 and 1998.
Stefanie and her sister, Marliese, shared in four junior championships and the Canadian title in 2000.
In 2003, Marliese moved from third to skip and guided her own team to provincial, Canadian and world women’s junior titles. The sisters curled together until 2015, when Marliese stepped away from the women’s game.
“It’s still a family affair and just the support that I have from my siblings and my dad is great,” Lawton said. “It’s so nice to have that too.”
The aforementioned experience was one of the reasons Silvernagle thought of Lawton while looking to rebuild her team in 2018. The move meant that Lawton would have to play third after being a lifelong skip.
“I’ve loved it,” Lawton said. “It was one of those things that before Robyn and her team even called me, I was looking for a change from skip. I wanted to see what I could offer at a third position.”
She has also discovered the perks.
“I love it because I’m warm now and I didn’t even know that curling could be warm,” Lawton said with a laugh, referencing the rigours and rewards of sweeping.
Silvernagle, Lawton, second Jessie Hunkin and lead Kara Thevenot carried a 2-1 record into Monday’s evening match against Alberta’s Laura Walker.
Saskatchewan is to play Quebec’s Noémie Verreault (1:30 p.m.) and Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson (6:30 p.m.) on Tuesday.