Oxbow's Chaelynn Kitz curled on Team Saskatchewan at the recent Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canada's national women's curling championship.
Her first time at the Scotties was an unusual experience, with curlers being in isolation between games and no fans in the stands, but it proved to be nonetheless incredible.
"It was an awesome experience. It's been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, so to finally get there, it was something I could've never imagined," said Kitz.
Kitz, who curled second, wore green alongside skip Sherry Anderson, third Nancy Martin and lead Breanne Knapp. Team Anderson, coached by Shane Kitz, is based out of the Nutana Curling Club in Saskatoon. They finished the tournament with a 6-6 record.
Athletes at Olympic Park in Calgary encountered a Scotties like no other. Curlers had to follow strict COVID-19 restrictions and remain in a bubble during the duration of their stay. Cardboard cut-outs of friends, family, and pets filled the stands, which, although comforting, created a near-silent rink.
Anderson famously remarked that it was so quiet on the ice that they could hear a toilet flush, something very ironic considering the Scotties' typical rambunctious environment.
Kitz explained how it felt to be around such elite players: "Just being on that kind of ice and being around those kinds of people more often … increases … your comfort level. The more comfortable you can be, the more excellent you can play."
She is continuing her growth as an outstanding curler this season. Kitz will be competing in the Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship with her teammate, Calgary-based athlete Kyler Kleibrink.
The pair has been preparing as much as possible for the event while not meeting in person. They have been discussing strategy over Zoom calls.
Kitz's current priority is to stay in a focused headspace during her time at home.
She also explained how much the outpouring of support from the southeast corner means to her.
"It was actually insane. [It's] … going to be my most cherished memories of going, just the outreach [of support]. There were just so many people on Facebook, especially."
Kitz recognizes the power of humble beginnings.
"With all the trouble that Oxbow Curling rink has had this year … I want people to see me reaching my dreams. It starts in the small rinks. I started curling in Alameda and Oxbow, and I fully attribute everything to them, so that's why I want more people to get out there."
Chaelynn would like young curlers to know that "hard work pays off. Whatever you can set your mind to and make that goal, just keep working away. Practice makes perfect. Just keep practising, and if you keep trying hard, you will succeed."
"I would like to thank everyone who reached out and who was cheering for us in green. We felt it. There was no crowd out there, but we felt the cheer from home," she said.
The Canadian Mixed Double Championships will kick off March 18.