When Jennifer Jones announced her iconic team was splitting ways after this season, it was the end of a long chapter in her curling career.
But she was not closing the book.
On Thursday, one of the sport’s all-time greats revealed her plans. Jones has agreed to guide the young, talented Mackenzie Zacharias crew for the foreseeable future, beginning this fall.
Even after a record-tying six Canadian championships, two world titles and a couple of Olympics — one of them gold — her decision is simple: at 47, she still wants to play more.
“I’ve got that spark inside,” she told the Free Press, by phone from her home near Barrie, Ont.
Zacharias and her sister, second Emily Zacharias, hail from Altona, third Karlee Burgess from Nova Scotia, and lead Lauren Lenentine from Prince Edward Island.
When they got a call with an offer that would put them under the wing of one of the greatest to play the game, the young foursome leaped to sign on to the new Team Jennifer Jones.
“It’s definitely a pinch-me moment,” Zacharias said.
“I’m overjoyed that Jennifer Jones would even think about playing with us, or that she even knew who I was. To realize that she had recognized some of the talent in our team, and saw that we were trying to get to the top of women’s curling… she’s going to be able to take us from where we are now, to above and beyond.”
“I’m overjoyed that Jennifer Jones would even think about playing with us, or that she even knew who I was.” –Mackenzie Zacharias
The plan will see Jones simply take the reins of the existing Team Zacharias to make a five-person squad, similar to the one Jones ran for the last two seasons. Lenentine and Emily Zacharias will alternate at lead, though there will be flexibility: for instance, Jones said, there may be events where Zacharias calls the shots, and Jones steps back to watch.
As it stands, the idea is to commit for a full quadrennial, although they will re-evaluate every season.
“I’m so excited,” Jones said. “Our goal is to win, to win the Scotties. They’ve had so much success on their own, but they want to learn, they want to be better, they want to soak it all up and figure out how to be successful, and they feel like I can do that for them.”
At just 22 and only two years removed from her world junior championship gold, Zacharias had already won her first provincial women’s title, and led her team to be ranked 13th in the world this season.
Still, they were hungry for more. Zacharias’s team had agreed to put careers on the back burner, to give curling a go. They even all live together, having moved from home to focus on curling.
On paper, it makes for a great story: a curling legend in the sunset years of a storied career, leading a team of blazing young guns. There is also the fact that it allows Jones to keep playing out of Manitoba, which was important both for her own love of the province, and in honour of her late father, Larry Jones, who championed the sport here.
There’s also this: in speaking with Zacharias, her thoughts drift back to that time, 12 years ago, when she invited a talented young player named Kaitlyn Lawes to come join her team. Back then, Lawes was just one year out of her own head-turning junior skipping career, and, well, every curling fan knows how that chemistry turned out.
“I just remember the excitement, the energy she brought, the love of the game,” Jones said. “I feel like we connected. And when I talk to these girls, as much as they are young, they’re mature beyond their years in the sense that they’ve had a goal for their entire life, and they’ve figured out how to achieve it. So, they’re very determined, very focus-driven.
“As much as they’re younger than me, I feel like their curling mentality is on par,” she continued. “Their focus and determination is equal. If I am going to leave curling, it’s a great way to feel like I’ve maybe helped mentor the next generation.”
“If I am going to leave curling, it’s a great way to feel like I’ve maybe helped mentor the next generation.” –Jennifer Jones
Zacharias sees the echo of Lawes’s trajectory with Jones in more ways than one. Lawes, for instance, blossomed into one of the most technically superb sweepers in curling; Zacharias, who has never spent much time at any position other than skip, is eager to work on her own brushing, learn from different sweeping coaches and build up more strength in the gym.
Above all, though, she’s ready to soak up all that Jones knows about the game.
“We know exactly where we want to get to, and have similar goals and very high expectations of ourselves,” she said of her team. “Our downfall is that we haven’t been playing the women’s game for that long. So, playing third for Jen I’m just going to be able to soak that strategy in, and that’s going to be an absolutely fantastic experience. I cannot wait for that.”
They’ll likely start off in a big way. Based on their current rankings, the new team is expected to qualify for the first few Grand Slam of Curling events next season. That will still be very new territory for their crew: Burgess and Lenentine have played in one, while the Zacharias sisters will be making their first Grand Slam appearance at the Player’s Championship this April.
Now, they get to look ahead and know they’ll be kicking off their 2022 season against many of Canada — and even the world’s — best.
“We’re just in awe of what next season is going to look like. We have no idea what to expect, because we’ve never been in this situation before,” Zacharias said.
“But we’re so excited to take it step by step, and see where it goes, and go full in on curling. We have a lot of potential. Things are only going to go up for us, and I think Jen recognizes that and is ready to take us under her wing.”
Jimmy Butler steals the show on NBA media day with ‘emo’ phase look following Damian Lillard’s trade to the Milwaukee Bucks
Whether or not Miami Heat’s golden child Jimmy Butler’s new “emo” look is just a phase, the NBA star carried it off with some aplomb, drawing plenty of laughs from his teammates.
One year on from his memorable fake dreadlocks look, the 34-year-old outdid himself by turning up at the Heat’s media day on Monday sporting a straightened fringe, piercings in his eyebrow and lips and painted black nails.
Butler said he’s now “emo” and after the summer he and the Heat have had, who can blame him?
After former Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and his agent publicly stated on numerous occasions that he would only want to play for Miami, it seemed like a matter of when, not if, the 33-year-old would end up in South Beach.
Butler led the Heat to an improbable NBA Finals appearance as the eight seed last season, so it’s easy to imagine his excitement at the prospect of Lillard’s addition to the roster pushing the team over the top and to its first title in the post-Lebron James era.
However, the Milwaukee Bucks swooped in last week with a package that blew Miami’s out of the water, meaning Lillard will now be plying his trade in Wisconsin and not Florida.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, laugh it up,” Butler said as he entered his press conference, pushing his fringe out of his eyes. “I’m emo. This is my emotional state, I’m at one with my emotions so this is what you get.”
Despite failing to acquire Lillard and losing key contributors Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, Butler remains confident ahead of the upcoming season, telling reporters the Heat are going to win it all.
If it’s good news that he’s now at one with his emotions, Butler might just also be a gifted method actor and isn’t actually going through a belated “emo” phase. The six-time All Star could be heard saying “don’t make me break character” as he entered the press conference.
His new character was certainly a hit with his teammates and had Bam Adebayo crying tears of laughter as the pair were having their photos taken for the new season – which means, yes, Butler will have this hair in official photos for the entire year.
Certainly not someone to do things by halves, Butler was fully immersed in his new state and even posted songs from emo bands on his Instagram story throughout the day.
Finding Your Perfect Match: The Best Ways to Choose an Online Sportsbook
In the ever-expanding world of online sports betting, selecting the right sportsbook is crucial. This is to ensure an enjoyable and secure gambling experience. With numerous options available, it can be challenging to find the perfect fit. For instance, you can be looking into sites like BestOdds to find a sportsbook to go with but do not know what exactly to check.
This article will explain the basics of finding an excellent online sportsbook.
Licensing and Regulation
The first and most critical factor when choosing an online sportsbook is ensuring it operates in a legal and transparent manner. A reputable sportsbook should possess a valid license from a recognized regulatory authority. These licenses indicate that the sportsbook adheres to strict standards, including fair play, responsible gambling and financial security.
Before registering, check for the sportsbook’s licensing information. In most cases, you will find this in the footer of their website. Some of the most reputable regulatory bodies for online sports betting include the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission.
Additionally, research the sportsbook’s track record for regulatory compliance and any previous non-payment or unethical practices incidents. User reviews and industry news sources can provide valuable insights into the sportsbook’s reputation.
Odds and Betting Markets
The quality of odds and the variety of betting markets offered are key factors in determining the suitability of an online sportsbook. Competitive odds provide better potential returns for your bets, while a wide range of markets allows you to explore different betting options.
Compare odds from multiple sportsbooks to ensure you get the best bet value. Some websites and apps even offer odds comparison tools to make this process more convenient.
Moreover, consider the breadth of sports and events covered by the sportsbook. Whether you’re into mainstream sports like football, basketball, or soccer or niche sports and events, the sportsbook should offer diverse markets to cater to your preferences.
Security and Payment Options
Security is paramount when sharing personal and financial information with an online sportsbook. Look for sportsbooks that employ the latest encryption technologies, such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer), to safeguard your data. Consider factors like two-factor authentication (2FA) to enhance account security further.
Payment options are another critical aspect. Ensure the sportsbook offers convenient and secure methods for depositing and withdrawing funds. Common payment methods include credit/debit cards, bank transfers, e-wallets (like PayPal or Skrill) and cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin). Choosing a sportsbook that supports your preferred payment method is essential to streamline your betting experience.
As LeBron James enters Year 21, the theme of Lakers media day was passing the torch and sharing the load
The budding relationship between fifth-year forward Rui Hachimura and four-time MVP LeBron James has been one of the stories of the offseason for the resurgent Los Angeles Lakers. Stories of the two working out together have become commonplace. “I call him my Daniel-san and I’m Mr. Miyagi,” James joked at Lakers’ media day Monday. It was an appropriate comparison not just between James and Hachimura, but the legend and his entire team.
Now that Udonis Haslem has called it a career and Andre Iguodala is seemingly headed in that direction, James is officially the NBA’s oldest active player. He proved that he is still a superstar on the court last season, but aside from Anthony Davis and Taurean Prince, all of his Laker teammates are at least a decade his junior. In a perfect world, the days of James pushing for 30-point triple-doubles on a nightly basis are now over. He has a group of young teammates eager to learn from his example and lift him up when he needs it.
“I think with this team we have the most depth,” new Lakers big man Christian Wood said Monday. “No team in the league has more depth than we have.” This was the goal of the Lakers’ offseason. Though they didn’t make any particularly splashy additions, six of the seven Lakers to play at least 200 postseason minutes are back this season. Joining them are Gabe Vincent, a starter on Miami’s finalist from a season ago, and Wood, one of the NBA’s most dynamic scoring big men. Rounding out the new-look bench are former first-round picks Taurean Prince (29), Cam Reddish (24) and Jaxson Hayes (23). That youth-oriented approach was no accident, as Lakers coach Darvin Ham explained Friday.
“Now that we have, top-to-bottom, what we feel is a highly balanced, skilled, athletic, younger team of guys that have logged a ton of NBA minutes, we can surround both he and AD with these players who are coming in eager to contribute, eager to show that they can impact winning,” Ham said. “That’s gonna allow us to be able to be more efficient with his game-to-game minutes.”
Managing James’ minutes was difficult last season. The Lakers lacked depth on a roster depleted by the Russell Westbrook trade, and when Davis was hurt, James needed to carry a remarkable burden just to keep the Lakers afloat. He averaged 24.1 shots and 34.6 points per game between Dec. 18 and Jan. 24, Davis’ longest extended absence of the season. Roughly one month later, he suffered the foot injury that hampered him for the rest of the season. It’s an outcome Davis is hoping to avoid this time around.
“It’s my goal every year to play 82,” Davis said. Though likely unobtainable, keeping Davis on the floor will be essential to the Lakers’ championship hopes this season. In fact, James might even argue that his co-star’s health is more important than his own. “He is the face [of the franchise],” James said at media day. For stretches last season, he was among the NBA’s best players. Between Nov. 13 and his own injury on Dec. 13, Davis averaged 32.4 points per game while doubling as the league’s best defensive player.
But for the Lakers to realize their considerable potential, he’ll have to sustain that dominance for longer stretches. The supporting players, who were so instrumental in lifting the Lakers from out of the top-10 in the West and into the Western Conference finals, will have to continue to benefit from James’ presence as Hachimura has. The Lakers went from cellar-dweller to contender last season when they morphed from an older, star-driven roster to a younger, balanced one, and whether that means Davis stepping into James’ role as the focal point of the team or the role players improving with another year in the system, the Lakers made it clear at media day that they plan to continue that transformation.
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