Rachel Homan overwhelms foes at Scotties, engrosses Ontario teammates with ‘amazing sense of humour’
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — If you’ve tuned in to any Scotties Tournament of Hearts curling coverage this decade, and more specifically this week, you may have considered Rachel Homan’s serious demeanour.
The Ontario skip’s athletic persona seems so stern. So steely. So stoic. Some folks extrapolate and believe the 27-year-old must be that way away from the rink, too.
They would be wrong.
“People have no idea that she is probably one of the funniest people you will ever meet,” Team Ontario’s first-year coach Adam Kingsbury said.
So, too, say her teammates.
We’ve all seen Homan’s blazing blue eyes burn holes through the stones she stares down from 40 yards away, as she explodes out of the hack — crouched low, sliding statue-still — to destroy the latest faint hope for victory a rival team offers up at the other end.
Homan’s uncloaked, rare, transcendent competitiveness has already placed two Scotties championship trophies (2013, 2014) and world championship bronze and silver medals on her mantle. And it has propelled her rink to an 9-0 start this year.
That in-game intensity belies a compelling aspect of her introverted personality — one that few people outside of her family and close friends know about.
“Rachel is the funniest person on the team,” said Ontario’s lead, 31-year-old Lisa Weagle. “Really. I just think she has an amazing sense of humour.”
Third Emma Miskew, 28, has been best friends with Homan since they were five years old, growing up in Ottawa. Miskew is well aware of Homan’s reputation.
“Everyone always says, ‘Oh, she’s so serious.’ Or, ‘She needs to smile more,’” Miskew said. “And we’re like, ‘If you only knew!’ Because she really has quite a sense of humour.”
Weagle hasn’t known Homan as long as Miskew, but rooms with the skip on the road. At long tournaments such as this, Weagle is with her basically 24/7.
“Rachel is actually very warm, really funny and one of my best friends,” Weagle said. “We have a ton of laughs together. A lot of our time on the road is spent watching funny videos or stuff on YouTube — just trying to keep it light and have a few laughs, because out here (on the rink during the Scotties), it’s stressful.
“It’s a long week. There’s a lot of pressure on all of us, but in particular on her. So I think that’s a good way for all of us to ease some tension.”
For her part, Homan agrees with her teammates, insofar as she’s not ever-serious. But in what specific ways? She wouldn’t tip her Joker cards.
“It’s just stuff you don’t see on TV,” Homan said.
OK, but does her reputation bother her? Homan paused a moment.
“Um, I mean … it’s whatever anyone wants to think of me.”
Homan then defended her on-ice demeanour, even though it was unnecessary to do so.
“I’m probably the one on the team that cracks the most jokes and gets people to laugh,” she said. “But when the team is looking to me to make the next big (shot), it’s not a time to be joking around and laughing. There’s a lot on the line, and we’ve all put in way too much for me to be cracking jokes in the middle of my throw.
“So absolutely, I’m going to be 100 per cent business when it’s time to be. And as soon as we have that three-minute break or whatever, we’re trying to lighten it up and joke with each other and take that mental break that you need. You can’t focus for six hours.
“So we try to take it lighthearted and joke around as much as possible, but when it comes down to the throws — it’s not the time to be doing that.”
So she can be funny. But how exactly does Homan amuse? Is her brand of humour silly? Pranky? Punny? Topical? Raw?
None of those. Her team described it as follows.
Weagle, the lead: “Dry. Very dry.”
Kingsbury, the coach: “She is incredibly observant and will catch you on anything. So you have to be sharp. Always.”
Miskew, the third: “It’s not really pranky. We don’t constantly prank each other, or anything like that. She just picks up on details, and her delivery is everything, in a funny way. I could say the same thing and it wouldn’t be funny. She does and it’s hilarious. A little bit of sarcasm here and there. We all have a pretty good sense of humour.”
Cheryl Kreviazuk, the alternate, who has known Homan since childhood: “It’s a deadpan. Dry, sarcastic. And she’s very, very quick-witted. It’s not mean, just funny. She’ll still have a straight face when she says a joke, and you kind of look at her. And then she’s got this little smirk and you’re like, ‘Oh-oh — gotcha there.’ She’s so quick.”
Joanne Courtney, the second, might have explained the root of Homan’s humour best: “When I joined the team (three years ago), she was the most supportive, the most nurturing and always the most lighthearted. The jokester. She’s always cracking jokes, and they’re not mean-spirited at all. Her one-liners, especially, are great. She’s a bit of an introvert, though. Once you warm up to her a little bit, she’s pretty hilarious.”
Homan’s humour is seldom calculated, her teammates say. Usually just spontaneous.
“Like yesterday,” Courtney said Wednesday. “We were in the middle of our pre-game practice, and this arena musician (Anderson Phillips) was playing some kind of Caribbean tune, and all of a sudden he started playing a (Justin) Bieber song. And Emma wanted to know what specific turn Rachel wanted her to throw in practice.
“And Rachel was just sitting there, bobbing along to the music, and just smiling back at Emma. We all laughed and just went, ‘Whatever, Rachel.’
“And you can’t get much past her. If you say something silly, she’s going to catch it, and you’re going to get made fun of.”
These are high-performance athletes, after all. So Homan’s teammates don’t exactly need encouragement to dish it back as well as take it. Even if that’s often to no avail.
“We all enjoy it, but none of us can deliver it like she can,” Miskew said.
Maybe only in that way is Homan the same off the ice.
Rachel Homan overwhelms foes at Scotties, engrosses Ontario teammates with ‘amazing sense of humour’ | National Post
Rachel hasn't dropped below 98% completion rate on her shots for the entire Scotties so far and just helped her team to their 10th win. The team is alone at the top of the standings.