Anyone who has followed Amber Holland's storied curling career has witnessed her proactive approach to her sport and her life. And they may not be surprised by Holland's plans to step back from a 20-year career with CurlSask to join her partner Travis Brown on his family farm near Loreburn.
“It's a combination of a couple of things,” says Holland, 41. “Life changes and I have a partner who lives nowhere near Regina. Somebody-and something-had to give.”
Although CurlSask fought hard to keep Holland-offering to allow her to continue as the provincial organization's director from Loreburn, with occasional two-hour commutes to Regina-Holland decided it was time for “a fresh start.”
“It's my 21st year with CurlSask,” says Holland. “I started there as their technical director. But if there's ever a time to make a change, this it.”
“It's kind of scary,” she adds. “I'm not going into another job, and I'll have to find something. But I've made the decision to do something different and instead of letting myself be anxious or scared about that; I'll figure it out.”
“I have a plan, a path and goals and there's certainly a little bit of the unknown, too.”
When asked for advice on her winning mindset, Holland says, “You have to do what's good for you. I've found a partner I love to be with, and that's something I want to do for me. But I'm going into it eyes wide open. You've got to do what makes you happy, but you have to look where you're going.”
“It's really important to look out for number one,” she continues. “You're never good to anyone else-whether it's your partner, your family, your friends or your co-workers if you don't take care of yourself.”
“Women are by definition the caregivers for the most part, right? They tend to want to look after everyone, but it's important that they look after themselves.”
Despite her 25 years as a city-dweller, Holland says she's looking forward to life on the farm-with some conditions.
“Some people are drawn to the city and there are some convenient things about living there. But I love being on the farm. I grew up on a farm. But I'm not sure I like the farm work,” she laughs.
“Family farms are still family farms,” says Holland of Brown's family's grain operation. “But it's a large farm and of course, it's a business and it has to be run as a business. Everyone in the family helps out on the farm, but there are hired workers, too.”
“I haven't really got into what my role will be (on the farm), but I will support Travis and help out the best I can. It's no different if Travis made the move into Regina (for me).”
“I'll get my feet wet and figure it out from there.”
However, curling fans will be happy to know that Holland will not be retiring from the sport in which she skipped her way to a silver medal at theWomen's World Championship in 2011 with team mates Heather Kalenchuk and sisters Kim and Tammy Schneider. And fans still remember Holland's victories during the 2010 and 2011 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, especially her squad's 2011 win, where Holland took the title from defending champion Jennifer Jones with a single, tie-breaking point. As a result of that performance, Holland was awarded the Sandra Schmirler Most Valuable Player Award.
Holland will end her official role with CurlSask in July, which includes helping her replacement transition into the executive director's position. She is also coach of Jason Ackerman's Regina team and her partner, Brown is the coach of Michele Englot's team.
“I'll still be coaching and consulting,” says Holland. “And I'll still be involved with camps, clinics and high-performance teams.”
“But it's also time (for me) to give back,” she adds. “I'm not going away from curling. Even when I don't compete, there's more to being part of curling than just playing. I really feel that I have an obligation to give back. And every person who cares abour curling in our province can do that, too-whether it's volunteering at a club or asking someone to play....If we want our sport to be healthy and strong, we have to look to ourselves.”
“As a competitive curler, I've made many friends during my career and spent a lot of time and travelled a lot. Curling's not getting rid of me anytime soon.”
“Yes, I'm stepping away from my job, but I'm not stepping away from curling.”