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Houston foursome unlikely champions in 1988 and 1989

Heather Houston, Lorraine Lang, Tracy Kennedy and Diane Adams were a new team 33 years ago when they stunned the curling world by winning the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. A year later, they were world champions.
Heather Houston Lorraine Lang Tracy Kennedy Diane Adams
Heather Houston (from left), Lorraine Lang, Diane Adams and Tracy Kennedy pose with the Scotties Tournament of Hearts trophy, 34 years after winning it for the first time in 1988. The 2022 Scotties open in Thunder Bay on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY – Heather Houston says when she skipped her team into the 1988 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, she had no idea they were good enough to win.

Houston says they were in awe at the Ontario championships, surprised they were able to outlast the likes of Marilyn Bodogh and Alison Goring to earn the right to represent the province at the national women’s curling championship in Fredericton, N.B.

A first-year team, Houston, lead Tracy Kennedy, second Diane Adams and third Lorraine Lang, said they were just hoping to compete, learning the Scotties ropes as they went along.

Little did they know they’d finish at 7-4, then win a pair of tiebreakers before downing Saskatchewan’s Michelle Schneider 7-4 in the semifinal and reigning champion Pat Sanders foursome 6-5 with a steal of one in the 10th to claim their first of two straight Scotties titles.

“I believe in the moment we were just trying to do the best we could for each other, for our curling club, for our city and our country,” said Houston, who gathered with her teammates on Thursday at the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, posing for pictures with the Scotties trophy while looking back at their remarkable run, that led to a world championship win in 1989.

“We were as surprised as anybody the first time when we won. We were put in a place to go overseas to try to win a world championship as a new team. We relied on Lorraine and her experiences with her husband’s team.”

Lang, of course, is married to Rick Lang, a two-time world champion in his own right, and the mother of Sarah Potts, the lead on Krista McCarville’s Northern Ontario squad that opens the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Friday night at Fort William Gardens.

Looking back more than three decades, it’s kind of hard to believe, said Lang, who eventually found herself back at the Scotties playing lead for McCarville herself in the 2006, 2007 and 2009 championships.

“I think our entire team is extremely grateful for the fact we were able to win the world championship. Sometimes you don’t get that second chance,” said Lang, the 1988 team falling 9-3 to Sweden in the world championship final.

“I think we were all very determined and really lucky that we got together and we all had similar goals. The fact that we could go back and win the world championship together was very special.”

It took another solid Scotties run to get that shot in 1989.

Now wearing Canada’s colours on their back, Houston’s rink finished at 7-4 and in a five-way tie for second. They knocked off Colleen Jones 8-6 in the tie breaker, then Schneider again in the semifinal before claiming their second straight title with an 11-5 win over Manitoba’s Chris More.

Kennedy, who said the team doesn’t get together all that often these days, said at the time they were caught up in the moment.

“But now when we look back, my kids are like, ‘Wow, you guys did something that’s pretty amazing.’ Me too. In the moment it didn’t seem like that much, but looking back now we realize how tough it was,” Kennedy said.

In those days, there was no Northern Ontario team, to get to the Scotties teams had to beat the best the entire province had to offer.

“I remember going to Sudbury to play and thinking Alison Goring is going to be there. Marilyn Bodogh is going to be there. We were like we’ve got to be on our game or this little team from the north (won’t go anywhere). Once we started winning, we were like, ‘We can compete at this level,’” Kennedy said.

Adams said it was a combination of youth and determination that led them on their magical three-year journey, before the team parted ways in 1991.

“We were always the underdog, honestly. We were not the ones who were expected to win. So when we did, I think we really just enjoyed that moment and got to celebrate. Now when you look back and reflect, you say, ‘Wow, that was a lot of work and it was a really good accomplishment.”

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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