Kelly transitions to life after curling

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - Some athletes regret leaving the sport they love, but for two-time world curling champion Kim Kelly, the transition has been easy.
Kelly's father, Roger Ackles, lives in Amherst and she was visiting him while the Scotties Tournament of Hearts qualifier was taking place at the Amherst Curling Club last weekend.
Kelly played with the Colleen Jones rink since 1991 but retired from competitive play at the end of last season.
"I don't miss the curling as much as I miss the camaraderie," Kelly said.
"Being four women and trying to have a common goal and work together, you learn a lot about each other. It's like being married."
In 1999, the team won the first of five Canadian championships, with the following four coming in consecutive years from 2001-04.
They won their world championships in 2001 and 2004.
"When I played with Colleen, it was a lot of fun but it was very intense," Kelly said. "To stay at that level you have to be physically tough and you have to work even harder to keep that mental edge."
For the last few years Kelly played with three members from her original team.
"It was more of a relaxed schedule. It was a nice transition from playing all the big events to not having the same expectations.
""I think I kept playing out of fear of not playing than really, really wanting to play."
Another reason for the desire to step off the competitive stage was to spend more time with her son, daughter and husband.
"My son is 17 and he's graduating from high school this year and my daughter is in Grade 8," she said.
"With curling I was always so busy and time just flew by and I thought, 'Oh my God, my son is graduating and going to university,' and I want to stay home and make family time more of a priority."
Kelly's father was in the armed forces.
"I started curling when I was eight, so depending on where we lived, I curled on the base."
She lived in Amherst in 1980.
"I went to half of Grade 12 here," she said.
Her grandparents are from the area so she always considered Amherst her home base.
"Amherst is always what I called home, even though I wasn't raised here."
Does she ever envision herself getting back in the game competitively?
"No, I'm more than happy to watch other people succeed at it, so that's how I know my competitive edge isn't there any more," Kelly said.
"After a while you just say, 'I really don't care if I make that shot.'"

Organizations: Amherst Curling Club

Geographic location: AMHERST

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