|Sarah Anderson (center) having just delivered her stone at the
2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
Sarah Anderson can honestly say she was a little awestruck.
During the qualifying rounds of the 2013 USA Curling National Championships in February, Anderson and her fellow teammates lost a tight 8-5 match to Team Erika Brown, a group with a combined six Olympic Winter Games between the four members.
“It was after our game, and I was just shaking their hands and I was like, ‘I remember all the times I’ve watched you guys in video clips and stuff,’” Anderson said. “It was just so cool to be playing them.”
That was a moment Anderson won’t soon forget.
Fast forward three days and Team Brown captured the national title in Green Bay, Wis., earning the team a berth in the 2013 World Women’s Championships. With the event about to wrap up, Brown asked to speak with Anderson. It turned out Brown was impressed with the curling ability of the 18-year-old and wanted to know if she’d be interested in joining Team Brown as an alternate for worlds in Riga, Latvia.
Anderson was awestruck once again.
“I was like, ‘Of course,’” said Anderson, whose team finished ninth at nationals. “I didn’t know what my plans were for the next month, but I said, ‘Yes. I will do it.’ … I was surprised and very thankful and grateful that they chose me. I felt honored.”
Anderson — who is a junior at Marple Newtown High School in Broomall, Penn. — was thrilled for a shot to shadow some of the best curlers in the world on the biggest stage. In addition to Brown (who competed in the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games when curling was a demonstration sport and also in the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan), the team also included Debbie McCormick (1998, 2002, 2010), Ann Swisshelm (2002) and Jessica Schultz (2006).
During the World Championships, in which her team placed fourth, Anderson watched her teammates compete and was able to absorb a lot by just observing and jotting down notes.
Anderson participated in pre-game practices and tried to help her teammates as much as possible.
“It truly was our pleasure to have Sarah as part of our team,” Brown wrote in an email to Anderson’s father and coach, Wayne. “We just kept saying to ourselves and out loud what a fantastic choice we made. She did everything we asked and intuitively did all the things we didn't think to ask.
|Team USA at the 2013 World Women's Curling Championship in
Riga, Latvia. (L-R) Erika Brown, Debbie McCormick, Jessica
Schultz, Ann Swisshelm, Sarah Anderson
Being a part of the World Championships is one of many crowning moments for the young curler who threw her first rock at the ripe age of 6. Anderson has competed in two U.S. Junior National Championships in 2008 and ’13 (placing ninth and fourth, respectively) and the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, where her team placed fifth.
“It was a real fun and eye-opening experience to go over there and just play against all these top teams of all ages,” Anderson said.
In the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, Anderson and her twin sister, Taylor, teamed up with two boys to form a mixed group. The team cruised to a 7-0 record in round-robin play but bowed out of the tournament with a loss in the quarterfinals.
“I definitely learned a lot and from going to that now I know that I wanted to go back to a competition like that. I just really set my goals and I know I want to get back there,” Anderson said. “Playing great competition improves your own game.”
When Anderson is competing on a smaller scale around the United States and Canada, she is on a junior team with her sister as well as Katie and Leilani Dubberstein, who both live in Wisconsin.
Anderson, who is her team’s skip, plans to share a wealth of knowledge from the World Championships experience.
“Definitely strategy-wise and how they would prepare for a game,” Anderson said. “Also, the meetings, what they’d talk about and after debriefing, how we can incorporate that to our pre-game and post-game talks, and I think that will be very beneficial to us.”
Said Katie Dubberstein: “Even though she didn’t play, she still got to see what that’s like and what the team has to go through — how they eat, what is their diet, do they exercise, what do they do while at these big tournaments — which we can apply to our smaller tournaments here.”
In Dubberstein’s two years of playing alongside Anderson, she’s seen Anderson improve her game quite a bit.
|Sarah Anderson in action at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic
Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
“She’s calling a very good game now,” Dubberstein said. “She always is very positive and thinking ahead. She’s pretty good at planning out way in advance.”
With her aggressive schedule on and off the ice, Anderson is constantly busy. She figures she has missed around four weeks of classes this school year because of curling competitions.
“My teachers are very understanding and supportive,” Anderson said. “They give me some time so I can do my work and they stay after class sometimes and re-teach things they have done with the class. They’re very helpful with that.”
Sometimes it becomes a daunting task to juggle school and curling, but Anderson wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s a bit overwhelming with all the work that I have to do for school, but it’s definitely fun just to have the opportunities to do this,” Anderson said. “My family’s supportive of it and I feel very grateful that I’m allowed to do this. It’s not an everyday thing that I get these chances and I try to take the most out of them.”