(December 10) The daughter-father Mixed Doubles team of Mikaylah and William Lyburn would love to play in the Canad Inns Mixed Doubles Trials in Portage in late December.
They know it is a long-shot but they’re willing to make the effort.
“Realistically, we’d have to hope to qualify for the last-chance event in Brantford and try to win one of the spots available,” William Lyburn said between games in late October in Dauphin during the NexusBioAg Mixed Dauphin Mixed Doubles Bonspiel, the second event in the new Cargill Curling Training Centre Manitoba Mixed Doubles Tour presented by Asham Curling Supplies.
At the time, they had a 4W-0L round robin record and were assured of a spot in the bonspiel’s championship game. They completed the event with a clean 6W-0L record and the bonspiel championship.
They had entered the event to get back into the Mixed Doubles frame of mind in advance of playing in the Ototoks Mixed Doubles bonspiel. The Lyburns did ‘just OK’ at that Okotoks event, winning one game and losing two in their three game round-robin series – not good enough to make the playoffs.
Undaunted, they next set their sights on the event underway this weekend in Brantford, ON and they got an invitaiton. There are two direct berths available through the event and the Lyburns are far enough down the CMDR (Canadian Mixed Doubles Ranking) that they probably have to finish in at least the final four or even make the final of the spiel to qualify for Portage. However, there are also eight rankings list berths to be awarded after the conclusion of the bonspiel, so it might be possible to climb up the CMDR to earn one of them.
Mikaylah, who plays third on the Emily Ogg team which led the Manitoba Junior Curling Tour at the time, has serious aspirations for her curling career as a junior and beyond into the Scotties.
At 18, she still has a couple of years of juniors. William, who has been one of the junior team’s co-coaches, likes the chances this year for the young team which played three games together last year but who really have to consider this their first year as a team.
“They have progressed well this year. I think by the time the provincials come around that they are one of five or six teams who have a good chance,” William says.
It is an interesting time for him. The Lyburn clan has been prominent in Manitoba curling circles since the family came to the Brandon area from Scotland about three decades ago thanks to both William and his brother Allan. And now the generational change is beginning with Mikaylah continuing the family legacy.
“I really enjoy Mixed Doubles,” William says. “It’s a fast game and great exercise.” With a smile he adds that he appreciates the fact there is much less organization required than for a 4’s team and hotel costs are lower as well.
He especially likes the opportunity to compete as an equal with his daughter.
“How many fathers get to play a sport they love with their daughter and know they can be competitive,” he says.
“Just as important, how many coaches get to actually compete on the same team as a person they are helping train and observe what skills they need to work on, how they throw under pressure, how they handle game situations,”
For Mikaylah, there is no extra pressure from playing with Dad – just the self-imposed pressure of wanting to do well.
She likes the game because there is more action and anyone can score that surprise three or four ender at any time. As for playing with her Dad, she knows there is a development advantage in playing with an older, stronger partner.
“I think I am probably learning more about the game than I would if I were playing with a partner my own age,” she says.
With a smile, she says it is maybe an advantage maybe a disadvantage that her dad/partner is quite willing to give her “heif” when she needs it. There doesn’t seem to be a definition for “heif” – suffice to say it may be a family word – maybe it is a real scottish or gaelic word that they both understand perfectly.
Is there a future for William outside Mixed Doubles? He thinks so – believing his team can contend this year at the provincial men’s and win him that elusive Brier trip. (NOTE: Team Lyburn was awarded an MCT-2022 Viterra berth based on rankings after the DEKALB Bonspiel!)
Is there a future for Mikaylah outside Mixed Doubles? She hopes so but is realistic, saying only “it will happen when it happens’. Just as it happened for the Manitoban champions she has long admired – Jennifer, Kaitlyn, Kerri, Selena. And for Rachel, a player she has gained admiration for as she has matured.
For now though the immediate focus is Mixed Doubles and that hope, faint as it might be, of a chance to play in Portage in December.