Vankleek Hill’s Natasha Fortin will be on the ice for the Dalhousie University Women’s Curling Team at the Canadian University National Finals at the RA Centre in Ottawa from September 21-25.

The third-year student at Dalhousie will be playing lead for the squad from Halifax, which won the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Women’s Curling Championship in March of this year in Windsor, Nova Scotia. The event at the RA Centre will decide the women’s and men’s Canadian teams that will compete in the 2023 FISU World University Games, which are scheduled for Jan. 12-22, 2023, in Lake Placid, N.Y. Six men’s and six women’s teams will compete in Ottawa — two of each gender representing Atlantic University Sport (AUS), Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and the Canada West Universities Athletic Association.

The daughter of Julia Fortin-Schwartzenhauer and Rejean Fortin, Natasha began her love of curling at the Vankleek Hill Curling club at the age of six after being inspired by her grandfather, who was an avid curler. She played Little Rock, representing VKH juniors under the coaching of Larry Brack and played with the Vankleek Hill Collegiate (VCI) Girls team coached by Dan Tremblay. She also played U18 out of the RCMP club.

The 20-year-old curler says she is most comfortable throwing first stones for her team, which was a need for the Dalhousie University Women’s curling squad this season.

“I’ve played every position, but I do prefer lead,” Fortin said. “It just worked out that (playing lead) was what was best for the team also.”

“I like it because you have to do a lot of sweeping as well. It’s also nice being front end because you can support the back end and give them advice on different shots you might see that they do not see.”

Fortin said she is excited to have the opportunity to play in front of family and friends, with the national championships moved to Ottawa, after originally having been cancelled last spring. The switch to a September date will be a challenge for the teams in the competition after so many months off.

“A lot of clubs don’t have their ice in yet, so we’re not able to practice to our full potential, but every team will have that disadvantage,” Fortin noted. “Through the summer we’ve all been staying in touch with team members to keep our relationships good and healthy, but also doing off ice training and practicing.”

Fortin said she is enjoying her studies at the university and living in Nova Scotia.

“I love it in Halifax. It’s so nice, everyone’s so kind, you’re by the ocean, pretty landscape – it’s a great place to be.”