When Rachel Homan’s rink stepped onto the ice Thursday morning for the early draw at the Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling in Estevan, there was a special cheering section rooting them on - a group of Grade 7 students from St. Michael’s School in Weyburn. The reason? Joanne Courtney, the second on the team, is their Classroom Champion.

The Classroom Champions program brings athletes together with classrooms across Canada, where the athlete mentors the class. They do it through video chats, challenges, and much more. Every once in a while, the class gets the unique experience of seeing their mentor in action, like Jari Fleck’s Grade 7 class did Thursday.

Fleck said the process starts with video messages which are played for the kids. The most recent session, though, was a little more involved, as Courtney talked with the class through Skype.

“For half an hour, the kids questioned her about anything and everything, and she really kind of gave us insight on how she's achieved her goals, and how we can set goals and make them a reality as well,” Fleck said.

For Courtney, this is her first time participating in the Classroom Champions program.

“It’s been fantastic,” Courtney explained. “I get to update the kids on what we’re up to every month on the road, and there’s a lesson with every little video I record, so we talk about things that are important not just in sport but in life, and qualities that are important to grow like appreciating diversity, the importance of perseverance, the importance of supporting your community.”

For the students, they got to see their mentor help her team pick up a win in the early draw of the day, as Team Homan beat Team Walker 8-3. The rest of the scores from the draw are available on Discover Weyburn Sports.

“We’re just really happy to be here today, and we’re happy this opportunity was given to us,” Fleck added. “It’s memories that will last a lifetime for the kids.”

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