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The Eh Game

Junior curling team adopts – of all things – the honey badger as mascot, team name

Don Landry
Eh Game

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Jessica Daigle skips the Honey Badgers at the 2014 Canadian Junior Championships. (CCA photo)

The headline on the Canadian Curling Association website bellowed: "New Brunswick's Honey Badgers shine at Canadian Juniors."

The who and the what now?

Four young women from New Brunswick are getting some extra attention these days and not just for good curling, the kind that has you emerging from your province and taking on the country's best at nationals.

Jessica Daigle, Cathlia Ward, Natalie Menzies and Katie Forward are collectively known as "The Honey Badgers." The name is an odd one, especially for a curling team, which is usually just named after its skip. Team Jacobs. Team Martin. Team Jones. Team Sweeting.

A little pedestrian, that. A touch boring. Why not spice things up and give your curling squad an identity, the way other pro and amateur sports teams all over the planet do?

It's a great idea, but you'd expect something like "Lions" or "Jets" or even "Roughriders."

The honey badger? Why, on earth, would you do that? What on earth is it?

Turns out, it's a stubborn, ferocious, tenacious little fella that exhibits the kind of characteristics with which the team can identify.

“They’re unrelenting," explains team coach Mark Ward, when asked about the animal, indigenous to Africa as well as parts of Asia and India. "A honey badger will go into a bee’s nest to get honey. And it’ll get stung like crazy. Or it’ll attack a snake. It just can’t be denied.”

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The Honey Badgers (L to R): Jessica Daigle, Cathlia Ward, Natalie Menzies, Katie Forward and Mark Ward.

"They’re going to see what they want and they’re going to go get it and they’re going to take it," he added.

Whatever floats your boat. Whatever pulls your curling team together. Whatever helps you keep your eyes on the target and your motivation high. Ward says the honey badger typifies what he and the girls want the team to be about.

"A team that’s gonna go get it, work hard and not be denied. Some of the things that we talked about as a team... what we wanted to be like."

"Plus it’s fun," he added.

For some, like the Norwegian men's squad, it's those pants. Glenn Howard's foursome from Ontario long ago made white belts their team signature (or was it Super Weedman?).

So, a honey badger it is, for the team from the Capital Winter Club, in Fredericton. But how did it come about?

"Kinda came out of nowhere," said Ward.

Turns out that lead Katie Forward's stepdad, Andrew, informed them all one night that his rec basketball team was called the Honey Badgers, which piqued the curiosity of the girls. When he was asked why, he directed them to a video of the honey badger on Youtube, which displays the creature's tenacity.

“He (Andrew) was telling us about how his basketball team was calling themselves Honey Badgers. The girls were really interested in what that was all about. He said ‘well, let me show you the video.’ It went from there," said Ward.

Unfortunately - at least as of now - there are no team jackets, hats or anything at all with a honey badger on it. At the Junior Championships this week in Nova Scotia, the girls had to use a little imagination in order to bring out their inner Ratel.

There were some temporary bunny tattoos being handed out to the kids at one of the venues and Ward says the team slapped them on.

“They decided that they weren’t bunnies but that they were honey badgers," he explained.

After losing their first two games of the competition, the Honey Badgers scrambled back into playoff contention and were still mathematically alive for a playoff spot as Thursday afternoon's action dawned. They'd kept on fighting, kept on going.

Just like a honey badger would.

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