Van Osch chosen as News Bulletin’s athlete of the year

Kesa Van Osch made it all the way to the Tournament of Hearts, onto the sports highlights, and her rocks made it right to the button.

Nanaimo curling skip Kesa Van Osch is the reigning Curl B.C. champion and will be defending her title in January in Maple Ridge.

She made it all the way to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, onto the sports highlights, and her rocks made it right to the button.

Kesa Van Osch is the Nanaimo News Bulletin’s 2014 Athlete of the Year.

Local curling fans have been cheering for the skip for years as she contended for juvenile and junior championships. Last January, Van Osch had a breakthrough.

Teaming with Stephanie Baier, Jessie Sanderson and Carley St. Blaze, the young women toppled eight-time B.C. champion Kelly Scott 5-4 in the provincial final in Prince George, winning Team B.C. jackets and a spot in the Tournament of Hearts.

For the first week of February in Montreal, Van Osch and her teammates – they added a fifth, Patti Knezevic – got a taste of curling’s biggest stage. Battling a bout of the flu, Team B.C. finished with a 6-5 record, one win shy of advancing to the playoff round.

An off-season later, Van Osch is back on the ice, and after the experience of the Tournament of Hearts, she can’t help but set her sights sky high.

“There’s always expectations when you’re in a sport and you do well in it,” Van Osch told the Bulletin last week. “Not only are people expecting [things from] you, but you also have personal expectations that you try and meet. Sometimes it doesn’t work as well as you hope it does, but other years you exceed or meet your expectations or goals of that year.”

It’s a totally different season for Kesa Van Osch. She leads an entirely new team and is reunited with her sister Kalia, who aged up from junior.

“It means everything to me to have not only that strong teammate, but that strong complementary personality out there,” Kesa said. “I really feel supported and I think she feels the same way when I’m out there with her, as well.”

Kesa is skip, Kalia is third, Trysta Vandale of Langley is second and Kelsey Steiger of Port Moody plays lead. Brooklyn Leitch, who has teamed with the Van Osch sisters in the past, is fifth.

The Vancouver Island curlers are used to practising and playing with teammates on the mainland. All the women are committed to whatever travel and time it takes.

“We’re going to give it the best go we have and put as much as we can into it,” Kesa said. “We’ll see what happens.”

The group could be peaking for provincials. Kesa and company went undefeated to win the A playdown earlier this month at Golden Ears Winter Club, and will be going back to that venue at the end of January to try for a B.C. title.

“Every time you have a different group of women together it’s always a different dynamic,” she said. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This year seems to be working quite well.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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