Father Knows Best: Coach Earle Morris helps Canadian team at curling worlds

HALIFAX — The red and white Canadian colours have become a familiar look for curling coach Earle Morris.

He wore them with Rachel Homan’s rink at the world women’s curling championships in 2013 and 2014 and he’s sporting them again this week with the Canadian team at the men’s world playdowns at Scotiabank Centre.

This time around, Morris is coaching his son John, skip Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen.

“To be a cheerleader is my first job and my second job is to stay out of the way,” Morris said with a laugh.

Morris was planning to step away from full-time coaching duties after leaving the Homan rink at the end of last season. But the appeal of working with his son and his teammates lured the 69-year-old back in.

“I think we’re doing a lot of good things on the team and he just brings that extra special experience, laid-backness and composure and veteran attitude to the team,” John said. “We’ve got a great support group with everyone.”

Simmons said Earle has helped the rink in many ways.

“He’s a really good organizer, he’s got some great ideas as far as strategies, how to practise, how to prepare for events,” he said. “We have great training camp practices when we’re together as a team. He’s just a very positive influence.

“He’s fully supportive, he says the right things, he’s been invaluable for us.”

Earle is joined by national team coach Rick Lang and team leader Paul Webster at this event.

“There’s nothing more we could ask for,” said John, 36. “We’re very comfortable with everyone on the team. They all bring little different things. It’s just a really great situation to be around.”

The team played a limited schedule over the first half of the season and found its stride after the New Year. Rycroft, who took most of the first half off, started playing more often and things started to improve at the Continental Cup and the Skins Game.

A slow start at the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary nearly proved costly. The defending champs rebounded and pulled out three big playoff wins to earn a trip to the world championship.

“By the time we got to the end, we were really cooking and now here we are,” Earle said.

John Morris gave up his skipping duties after a 2-3 start at the Brier. Simmons took over with Morris returning to his longtime position as third and the team hasn’t looked back.

“It is really rewarding because he’s a great guy,” Earle said of working with his son. “I’m so proud of the fact that he suggested making the change during the Brier. It was a difference-maker.”

Earle made it to three Briers as a player before turning to coaching. He worked with John as a junior and is very much enjoying being a part of his current team as well.

“When he was a teenager of course, it was that usual parent-teenager thing,” Earle said. “We get along well, we have a similar sense of humour. The guys are all great together. It’s just been really fun.”


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