On the All-Time First Name Women's Team
More challenging, more fun, and an absolutely dominant #1.
This newsletter is a continuation of the one I wrote a few weeks back when I was posed a question on Twitter about who I thought the best teams were that you could assemble using only players that had the same first name. I started with the men, and now am going to see if we can figure out who the best ladies’ team would be if you could only use players with the same first name. But first, some housekeeping.
As I figured when I wrote the men’s article, there would be some players I missed and potentially some teams I missed altogether. First, some fun team suggestions:
I don’t think in good conscience we can include Lori Eddy—both eligible for the ladies’ list and whose first name is not Ed—but the Eds are certainly an interesting trio. Lukowich/Werenich as a back-end is not only outstanding but would be a real clash of personalities that would be fun to watch.
Hammy MacMillan Sr. and Jr. and Matt Hamilton…what’s not to love?
And then on a more serious note, a few teams/players I missed…
Add Matt Baldwin or Matt Wozniak to this list and you’ve got a pretty good mix going here. Again, it’s the same problem as the original Team Peter in that we’ve got an awful lot of seconds, but this would be a really solid squad.
I actually had McEwen/Harris down on my original list but wasn’t sure I could fully round it out, as I mainly looked at Brier/World champions. Can’t believe I glossed over Mr. Fournier, whose had a very nice late-career run and Mr. Goodfellow, who has 4 World Championship appearances and an Olympic silver. I would slot the Mikes probably just between the Mark/cs and the Dons in the original article probably.
Peja Lindholm’s real name is Peter
I had a few people send me this one. For some reason that fact had totally slipped my mind and I even looked at his Wikipedia at the time I wrote the article. I must’ve been in a curling research-induced haze at that time. Putting him on the Peter team and bumping Fenson down to third, de Cruz down to his natural position at 2nd, and putting Corner at lead actually makes the Petes pretty damn strong. They would slot around the Jeff/Mark/Mike tier as well with this news, though our #2 team, the Kevins, would fear them (did you know Peja at one point had a 10-game winning streak against Kevin Martin? Me neither. Wild).
Loved all the feedback on that last one. Loved it so much in fact that I’m gonna open up the comments on the articles from now on. Let’s have some fun. And let’s get to the ladies.
As I alluded to in my previous post, the ladies’ teams are a lot harder because for whatever reason, there just aren’t that many ladies who all have the same names that have played the game. It’s very weird. With the men, I think it’s interesting how easy it is to have at least three or four first names immediately snap into your mind when posed the question—Brad, Kevin, John, Mark—but with the ladies, it was tough to think off the top of my head who might fit the bill. Some of you even echoed this sentiment to me on Twitter, saying you’re excited for this list because you couldn’t come up with even one.
Well, I’m pleased to report we do have some VERY strong candidates. As with the men’s list, this is presented in some sort of ascending order, without a ton of thought being given to ranking one team over another if they’re close together.
The “We Need a Fourth from the Spare Pool” Tier
Skip: Kaitlyn Jones (CAN)
Third: Kaitlyn Lawes (CAN)
Okay, the Kaitlyns need two spares from the spare pool, but I think it’s crazy how hard it is to make this list and yet we have two women with probably the fourth most-popular way to spell Katelyn/Caitlin/Caitlyn/Kaitlyn/Cait-Lynn/Kaytlynne/etc who have a wild number of accomplishments between them. World Juniors, World Women’s, two Olympic golds. It’s impressive. And feels somewhat connected to…
Third: Kate Cameron (CAN)
Second: “Russian Kate” Ekaterina Galkina (RUS)
Lead: Kate Horne (CAN)
As we said in the men’s article, curling is a strong link game and we don’t have a skip named Kate? It’s a huge problem. But that said, having those three players, all playing their natural positions, is an incredibly strong lineup with Olympic appearances, World titles, and a boatload of Scotties appearances. Now, you’re probably saying that we could pick up Kate Goodhelpsen, a World Junior finalist, to round out this lineup, bumping everyone up a spot, and we could, but none of these players really ever played skip. So we just can’t do it. If only Kaitlyn Lawes was ever in her life called “Kait”…
Skip: Kelley Law (CAN)
Third: Kelly Scott (CAN)
Second: Kelly Schafer (née Wood) (SCO)
Now, if we were willing to get creative like Kevin Palmer was with the Eddies, we could include Kim Kelly** on this team and we’d be dancing. Unfortunately, Kelly is her last name and I just couldn’t allow that on my list. I’m sure there’s a decent Kelly out there someone can help me with, but for now, this remains a team desperately in need of a full lineup. I wanted to include this team despite having only 3 players for two reasons:
I’m from BC, and so the two Kell(e)ys were my world growing up. I remember getting to meet and curl with Kelley Law shortly after she went to the 2002 Olympics and I thought it was the greatest thing that could’ve ever happened to 17 year-old me. Hell, I’m 36 years old now and it still might be.
This story about Kelly Schafer might be the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. From her Wikipedia: “While representing Scotland at the 2010 World Championships in Swift Current, Kelly Wood met the mayor, Jerrod Schafer, and a romance developed. She would later move to the town. Kelly and Jerrod Schafer married in 2013.” SHE WENT TO THE WORLDS AND BEGAN AN INTERNATIONAL ROMANCE WITH THE MAYOR. Someone get Netflix on the phone.
The “We Need an Elite Back-End Player” Tier
Skip: Sara McManus (SWE)
Third: Sarah Wilkes (CAN)
Second: Sara Carlsson (SWE)
Lead: Sarah Potts (CAN)
Sara McManus only played skip for a brief time in juniors, so despite her fantastic resumé, this team exists on this tier pretty much by themselves as they have a ton of great players but no natural skips. We’re going to see other teams later on this list who lack strength at the front end, but that automatically puts them ahead of this team, who doesn’t have that proven last rock thrower that could get it done. But you can’t argue with the power here and again, we have players almost all playing their natural positions, which is always a plus.
Skip: Anne Merklinger (CAN)
Third: Anne Jøtun (NOR)
Second: Anne Laird (SCO)
Lead: Anne Swisshelm (Silver) (USA)
This team solves the problem the Sara(h)s have, in that they have an elite skip in 4-time Scotties medalist (and one-time champ) Anne Merklinger, but then the rest of the team is leads. In fact, it was hard to even decide who would play third and second because all three have never really played anything else, but I decided to go with the two-time world champ Jøtun. Now, we could cheat and put Kim Eun-Jung** on the team, since her English name is “Annie”, but that does feel a bit unfair. This team does, however, remind me of the Peters from the men’s article in that if we had to put a team together where you could only use one member from each country, they may come out on top.
The Elite Tier
Skip: Alison Goring (CAN)
Third: Allison Pottinger (USA)
Second: Ali Kreviazuk (CAN)
Lead: Alli Flaxey (CAN)
This is where it starts to get good. Elite players up and down the lineup. Did you know Allison Pottinger has been to the Worlds 13 times??? I did not. Incredible. Plus she’s got a world title to go along with Goring’s 1990 World Bronze and Kreviazuk’s World Silver and Bronzes. Alli Flaxey, as we know, has been a career back-end player, but it’s been proven lots of times that thirds can move down to lead easier than skips or seconds, so we love having her there with her recent Trials appearance.
Skip: Heather Houston (CAN)
Third: Heather Nedohin (CAN)
Second: Heather Smith (CAN)
Lead: Heather Strong (CAN)
Originally, I had The Heathers in the Top 3. Let’s face it, the credentials are there. 4 Scotties titles. One World title, and four Worlds medals. TWENTY-EIGHT Scotties appearances. It’s an incredible team resumé. Unfortunately, the team I have in third has the Greatest of All-Time, and sometimes, you just can’t compete with that. And while Heather Strong went to 12 Scotties, she never medalled. Plus, this team is plagued with the “All Skips” syndrome, the opposite of how we classify a really good album (no skips, obviously). So it’s tough to know if Heather Smith would be good at second or Strong good at lead, and it’s tough to decide whether or not Heather Houston or Nedohin should skip, so while the team I have just edging them out for the Top 3 may not have exactly the titles these ladies do, they just FEEL like they are a stronger team. Sorry, Heathers.
The Top 3
Skip: Jennifer Jones (CAN)
Third: Jenn Hanna (CAN)
Second: Jennifer Dodds (SCO)
Lead: Jenn Baxter (CAN)
When you have the GOAT at skip, anything is possible, but this team just can’t be any higher due to the lack of elite credentials elsewhere in the lineup. But Jennifer Jones is almost a team resumé on her own. Her CV is, quite frankly, insane, and you can’t stare at it too long for risk of being blinded by the light blaring off the trophies. 16 Scotties appearances (out of arguably the hardest province). Six titles. 4 World medals, including two golds. Olympic Gold Medallist (also the first and only team to do it undefeated). Throw in a Canadian Junior title. Hell, the Order of Manitoba. Jenn Jones is an island, her own country in the world of curling. Her gravitational pull ensures the Jenns get to the top 3. It’s just too bad the rest of the team isn’t there yet.
Maybe if Jenn Dodds picks up a medal in either (or both) disciplines at the Olympics in a month, we consider bumping them up (and hell Jenny Jones winning another wouldn’t hurt), but the team is a shade short of what I think is a pretty clear Top 2, with no Worlds medals outside of Jones (and Dodds’ junior silver) and a lead that while having appeared at the Scotties four times (medalling once), doesn’t have the resumé the other leads in the Top 3 do. One thing they do also have going for them is a great fifth in Jen Gates, who I went back-and-forth with Baxter on including in the lineup, but Baxter has one more Scotties appearance (about to be two more) and a Scotties medal (and is still active), so I went with her.
Skip: Cathy King (CAN)
Third: Cathy Overton-Clapham (CAN)
Second: Cathy Gauthier (CAN)
Lead: Cathy Shaw (CAN)
Three things I adore about this team:
“Cathy” feels like a very Canadian name and I’m very here for it;
I love that it’s all “Cathy”. There are no Kathys here, or Cathies, or Kathies, or even Catherines. It’s Team Cathy baby, and that’s the way it is.
The big question here is “can Cathy Shaw play lead?” but I’ll go ahead and say with her resumé of two Canadian Junior Titles and five Scotties appearances including a gold and a silver, that she can. She also won the Scotties in the final year before there was even a Women’s World Championship (feels like an insane sentence to type), but let’s assume she wins a world medal there (Canada medalled at 20 of the first 21 Women’s Worlds so it feels like a safe assumption). Then we have the venerable Cathy King at skip, with her 7 Scotties appearances (out of arguably the hardest province), her one Scotties title, her World Seniors title, and her cadre of Tour wins. Cathy Gauthier has only been to 4 Scotties, but she won 3 of them (insane record). She’s also got 2 World medals and her son is a World Junior champ (I don’t know if that counts for anything).
And then if Jennifer Jones is an island, Cathy O is the islet right next door (or maybe they’d prefer the islands to be on opposite sides of the world. That’s ok too). 13 Scotties appearances at both skip and third (out of arguably the hardest province). 5 Scotties titles (and 10 overall medals). 3 World medals. 10 Grand Slam victories. Hell, at age 48 she came one win away from going to the Olympics.
This team? It’s good. Really good. Oh, and my third favourite thing? Their bench would have Cathy Caudle (Walter) and Cathy Cunningham on it, who have 17 Scotties appearances, one championship, and two other medals between them. Go on, girls.
Skip: Anna Hasselborg (SWE)
Third: Anna Sidorova (RUS)
Second: Anna Sloan (SCO)
Lead: Anna Le Moine (aka Bergstrom or Svard) (SWE)
We’ve decided since the turn of the century that Olympic medals and appearances mean more than anything else in this sport, and this is the only team on this entire list that has multiple players who have even PLAYED in the Olympics, never mind have multiple gold medals. Hell, Anna Le Moine herself has more OGMs than any other team on this list (aside from the Kaitlyns but…they only have two players). Add in Anna Hasselborg’s 2018 gold and Anna Sloan’s 2014 bronze and you’ve got a team that has one heck of an Olympic medal collection (which Hasselborg may just add to in a month). Every player on the team has also appeared in at least one Games, and they have 7 appearances total among them. And that’s not all.
25 World Championship appearances. 3 gold medals. 13 total medals. I won’t even bother counting the European Championship appearances and medals, because there’s a ton. You’d lose count. 11 Grand Slam victories too. It’s honestly absurd. No team even comes close, and we also have players mostly playing their natural positions. Anna Sloan was always a great hitter so it doesn’t seem like a stretch to find her at 2nd and Sidorova shouldn’t have any issue ceding the skipping reins to Hasselborg and making a great vice. And Anna Le Moine, almost poetically for the purposes of this newsletter, played lead her entire career. This team is a juggernaut. On the men’s side, it’s pretty easy to imagine if we played some sort of tournament with those teams, any one of the top 5 or 6 teams could win. This tournament isn’t a contest, it’s a bloodbath. The Annas win, and they win handily.
Who knew that the All-Time Men’s First Name Team would only have one Canadian on it, and the Women’s would have zero? We’ve gotta start banding together to name our kids the same thing or we’re gonna keep losing grip on our curling dominance, even moreso than we already are.
Oh, and the Mixed Doubles team? Also not close. It’s Kerri Einarson and Kerry Burtnyk. And if Kerri Einarson gets hurt or sick, Kerry Galusha can step right in. Sorry Jamie Sinclair/Jamie Koe, but this one is all The Kerri(y)s.
Thanks everyone for reading. If you’re enjoying the newsletters, please subscribe. You’ll get them sent directly to your email inbox and you’ll make me feel better about myself. Feel free to comment below, and follow me on Twitter at @cullenthecurler. Until next time.
**—in South Korea, the surname is the first listed name, and all 4 of their surnames are “Kim”, so we could just include the entire “Garlic Girls” lineup on here. 4 Olympic silver medallists. Boom. We could even throw in Kim Kelly and Kim Schneider for fun. I’m aware of this, but it feels like because this is a newsletter written by a Canadian guy in English and we don’t write the names that way (opting for Eun-Jung Kim instead of Kim Eun-Jung), it would’ve been a strange inclusion. But if you’re South Korean or just curious, I’d have them right there with the Heathers.