Additional coaching updates announced for High Performance Program

By Terry L. Davis | Aug. 17, 2018, 3:56 p.m. (ET)


Aug. 17, 2018

Coaching updates for high performance programs announced

(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) – Six team coaches have been added to USA Curling’s High Performance Program to kick off the 2018-19 season. In addition, changes have been made to enhance the Wheelchair National Team Program support.

For the three men’s teams, 2006 Olympic bronze medalist and six-time men’s U.S. national champion Shawn Rojeski (Hibbing, Minn.) will be the team coach for Mark Fenner’s rink. 2008 U.S. national champion Pete Annis (Owatonna, Minn.) will coach Rich Ruohonen’s reigning national champions. Don Bartlett (Edmonton, Alberta) takes over the reins of the Olympic champions skipped by John Shuster. Bartlett played lead for Kevin Martin for many years and competed in the 2002 Olympics.

On the women’s side, Howard Restall (Winnipeg, Manitoba) will coach Nina Roth’s 2018 Olympic squad. A curler for more than 50 years, Restall has previously coached U.S. junior teams. Bryan Cochrane, who skipped a team at the Canadian Brier and won the Canadian senior national championships twice, will take over as team coach for Jamie Sinclair’s rink. Darah-Lyn Blandford, a former competitive curler out of Alberta, has been named Cory Christensen’s team coach.

Under the direction of High Performance Program Director Derek Brown, the new coaches join Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.), Director of Coaching and the Men’s National Team Program; Pete Fenson, who is overseeing the Women’s National Team Program; Carly Anderson, sports psychologist, and Dave Jensen (Bismarck, N.D.), who, in addition to continuing in his role running the Junior HPP, will serve as a part-time technical coach for the HPP teams. Mike Gulenchyn of new USA Curling sponsor Twin Cities Orthopedics is the new athletic trainer (press release on this partnership coming soon).

Two-time Team USA Olympian Ann Swisshelm (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) will be serving as a performance consultant for both the Junior HPP teams and the USA Curling Wheelchair National Team program. The wheelchair program will again be led by National Coach Rusty Schieber (Portage, Wis.), Also returning are assistant coach Tony Colacchio (Falmouth, Mass), and Marc DePerno (Utica, N.Y.), who is coming back in the role of team leader and outreach development coordinator.

Full staff listing:

  • Derek Brown, Director of High Performance
  • Phill Drobnick, Director of Coaching/national coach, Men’s Program
  • Pete Fenson, national coach, Women’s Program
  • Pete Annis, team coach
  • Don Bartlett, team coach
  • Darah-Lyn Blandford, team coach
  • Bryan Cochrane, team coach
  • Howard Restall, team coach
  • Shawn Rojeski, team coach
  • Dave Jensen, Director of Junior High Performance Program
  • Wayne Anderson, junior team coach
  • Keith Dropkin, junior team coach
  • Mark Lazar, junior team coach
  • Bill Rhyme, junior team coach
  • Rusty Schieber, national wheelchair coach
  • Tony Colacchio, assistant wheelchair national coach
  • Marc DePerno, team leader and outreach development, Wheelchair National Team
  • Dr. Carly Anderson, sports psychologist
  • Mike Gulenchyn, athletic trainer
  • Ann Swisshelm, performance consultant, Junior HPP and Wheelchair National Team

USA Curling’s High Performance Program has seen steady improvement at international competitions in the last few years marked with a historic Olympic gold medal and Grand Slam win plus two bronze medals at world championships in 2016. In addition, the Junior HPP has secured three medals at the World Junior Championships since 2016. To learn more about the HPP, go to More information regarding the Wheelchair Curling National Program can be found at

USA Curling is sponsored by AtomOS, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, Carhartt, CryoMAX 8-Hour Cold Pack, Sitrin, The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, Thorne, BalancePlus, ISS (Ice, Sports & Solar), and Twin Cities Orthopedics, and is partnered with Carhartt, Brakebush, Laurie Artiss Ltd. – The Pin People, United Airlines, 12th End Sports Network, IHG, and CurlingZone.


For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications,, 608-338-9900 (mobile).