Monday, Feb 13, 2017 



Love at First Hurl 

Curlers fall for each other at spiel
Kevin Gillies, Abbotsford Curling Club


bbotsford’s Dean Joanisse is hoping to achieve this weekend what his love partner achieved three weeks ago — win entry to a national curling championship. Joanisse is skipping of Maple Ridge’s Golden Ears Curling Club, and competing at the B.C. Men's Championship, taking place this weekend at the Abbotsford Curling Club. The tournament continues Friday, with finals going Saturday and Sunday.

Joanisse and Shannon Aleksic have been together for nine years now, and both are competitive curlers on the provincial and national levels.

While Joanisse is throwing rocks in this weekend’s BC championship, Aleksic, who works for Curl BC — curling’s provincial governing body — is helping put on the tournament. But she throws third on Team (Marla) Mallett, which won the B.C. women’s provincial championship two weeks ago, and is now headed to the national championship — the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in St. Catharine’s, Ont.

Surrey’s Tyler Tardi, skip of the 2017 Junior Men Canadian Champion team that will represent Canada at the World championships.

And the approach of Valentine’s Day does little to soften the competitive edge in this Abbotsford relationship. So far, the Tournament of Hearts is winning the battle.

“Yeah I’m winning right now, but don’t count him out,” Aleksic said this week. “We’re always competing to one-up each other. I’m ahead right now as I have already booked my ticket to the nationals while he is here competing at the provincial championship. I’m quietly cheering for him … just don’t tell him that.”

Joanisse quickly counters that he’d not only beat Aleksic in a head-to-head competition, but he suggests we all head down to the ice right now to do this. Then he smiles, wraps his arm around Aleksic and pulls her in for a bear hug and a kiss on the top of her head.

Joanisse is clearly proud of his love as she prepares to head to Ontario, to vie for a national
championship, two days after they celebrate Valentine’s Day together here in Abbotsford.
And it’s only natural and expected that he’d love nothing more than to replicate the feat … and keep the home competition going.

“I haven’t been in a national championship for 10 years, and she hasn’t been in a national
championship for 10 years either, soooooo …” he said, with a head tilt that suggests he’s meant to represent BC at the Tim Hortons Brier next month.

“Maybe it’s in the stars. I’m working on it.”

But they’re not always competing with each other. In 2015 they were teammates at the Mixed
National Championship.

“We loved playing together,” Joanisse said. “It was a lot of fun. We also had a chance to go with two of our very close friends so that made it even that more memorable.”

And competing at respective national curling championships, is kind of how they met.

“True story,” Joanisse begins. “I was sitting in a pub in Victoria with a buddy of mine; the Scotties was on the TV and this is when I saw her for the first time.”

The same happened for Aleksic — first time she saw Joanisse was on TV when he was competing at the Brier. They officially met in person seven months later at a Cashspiel in Kamloops and the rest is history.

Dean was speechless when he was finally introduced to Aleksic.

“I made a complete ass out of myself – and didn’t even know what to say,” he said with a
chuckle. He redeemed himself later in the event and strung together a complete sentence that convinced Shannon he was a pretty good guy.

Nine years later, they happily reside in Abbotsford, B.C.; sharing national championship
aspirations … and Valentine’s Day.



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