CBC reporter, curling great Colleen Jones named to Order of Canada
Whether behind a microphone or behind a curling stone, Colleen Jones has always been a trailblazer.
For over 40 years, Jones has blazed a new trail for women in sport and broadcasting with her ability to adapt, endure and pivot – it has allowed her to become a champion on and off the ice.
The six-time national champion and two-time world champion was announced Thursday as one of 99 new members of the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours.
« I was surprised. Really surprised. Didn’t see it coming, » Jones said from her home in Halifax where she works as a reporter for CBC. “I’m excited about curling in general because I think it speaks to the power of what curling can do for other Canadians. The power of sports. I was just doing what I was doing. small path. »
Another Nova Scotian athlete – NHL star Sidney Crosby – was also named to the Order on Thursday.
Jones, 63, grew up in Halifax as one of nine children. They were a curling family and rock throwing started early in Jones’ life.
In 1979, at just 19, she won her first of 16 provincial titles, as well as a silver medal at the Canada Games that year.
At 22, Jones became the youngest captain to win a Scotties Tournament of Hearts title when she, alongside her sisters Barbara, Monica and Kay Smith, became champions at the 1982 event in Regina.
Winning would elude Jones for nearly two decades after that first win, mostly because she shifted her priorities from curling to career, and ultimately motherhood.
Jones became a CBC reporter and host in 1986 and two years later joined veterans Don Wittman and Don Duguid on CBC Sports curling shows.
« I think you’re still dealing with a case of nerves and confidence. And then you start to learn the magic of dealing with those nerves in broadcasting and curling. The mic was probably shaking when I came in to do the broadcast with Wittman and Duguid, who in my mind were legends. They were so welcoming and guiding me. It was so inspiring to me, » Jones said.
Jones said the audience wasn’t as welcoming at first.
« It was a really hostile environment for a woman to be on a national curling show at that time with Don and Don, » Jones said. « People were reluctant about it and the curlers were very passionate about the way it had always been done, so when they brought me in, not in a modest way either, there was a pushback. »
Undeterred, Jones stayed on the shows until 1997 and also reported on other sports as well as news. She has reported for CBC at several Olympics and also co-hosts That Curling Show alongside CBC Sports reporter Devin Heroux.
« Honestly, the support I received from CBC to go out into the world and pursue my dreams was amazing. They opened up a lot of avenues for me. It was huge. »
WATCH | This curling show with Colleen Jones and Devin Héroux:
Jones has two boys, Zach and Luke, with her husband Scott Saunders, and when her kids grew up she returned to curling in a big way.
« I have such a strong family support system. Scott has always had my back. Without him in my corner, none of this would have happened. Same with my siblings. I curled with my sisters all my life. my life. And my teammates. They always lifted me up no matter what. You never do any of this alone, » Jones said.
In 1999 Jones teamed up with Kim Kelly, Mary-Anne Arsenault and Nancy Delahunt, and 17 years after winning their first national title, Jones once again led the Nova Scotian foursome to glory. The team won five national championships in six years, including an unprecedented four consecutive Scotties.
The time interval between national championships is a record.
“The 17-year gap between wins really gave the idea that if you persevere, good things can happen,” Jones said. « I think that’s what our team stood for – possibility. We were never picked to win. We were older, I think I was 39. We were career women. We were mothers. And we put it all together. represented a different picture of who could win and how they could win. »
Jones added two world championship titles and also won two mixed Canadian championships and a senior world championship.
She has won some sort of national or world champion curling title in four different decades.
« I was trying to focus on the trio that was motherhood, career and curling and trying not to mess anything up. I never lost that focus. Those were my three things. »
Jones continues to curl, primarily competing with Luke in mixed doubles tournaments.
« To this day people say ‘if you could do it, I could do it,' » Jones said. « In everything I’ve done in my life, there’s been a critique of performance, from broadcasting to curling to being a mother: what am I doing well? What can I do? I learn? And the driving force behind it all is that if you do what you love, it’s easy. »
Crosby, widely considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time, won three Stanley Cups and two Olympic gold medals as a member of Team Canada. He is famous for scoring the OT winner at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
In 2018, the native of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia was named Nova Scotia’s All-Time Greatest Athlete by the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame. Jones was immediately behind Crosby in second place.
« He’s been such an incredible role model in every facet of his life, » Jones said.
« He’s in a whole different class of his own. Everyone in the province respects him so much. Perfection in all areas. he was setting his records as a young rookie player, he did it without ego. »