There’s a familial and familiar feeling for Madison Kleiter when she’s in the curling rink.
Not only has she been involved in curling from a young age, she’s also the third Kleiter to come through Saskatchewan’s curling ranks, preceded by her dad, Dean, and her older brother, Rylan. Now the 21-year-old is making a name for herself, competing at major events on the national stage and earning scholarships and awards that help her local community.
From the age of three to 18, Kleiter was a competitive dancer, with curling being something that she did for fun. However, when she was in Grade 9, she decided to move to the competitive stream of curling, thanks in part to her brother’s influence, as well as the opportunities to compete at the provincial, national and international levels.
“I think when my brother started to have some success and I started seeing him go to a national level in the sport, I was very much intrigued by it,” she said. “The future of curling is super bright and something that I feel you can go far in as an individual living in Canada.”
In her journey, Kleiter competed at the 2018 Saskatchewan Winter Games, but lost in the extra end of the final and missed the chance to compete at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer. It was a few years later that she finally got her chance to represent Saskatchewan on the national stage, wearing the green jacket skipping for her team at both the World Junior Qualifier in November 2021 and Junior Nationals in February 2022.
Along the way, she’s also competed with Rylan in mixed curling doubles and had her junior women’s teams coached by her dad. With a curling family, advice and help is never far away if she needs a hand.
“[My dad] is always there to help, even if this year he’s not coaching, he’s still there, coming to every practice and doing what I need him to, holding the broom and helping out,” Kleiter said.
“And then, my brother, I played mixed doubles with him as well so I learned a ton from him through that, just by being on the ice with him in a competitive environment and seeing how he handles the pressure and stuff.”
Having advanced from juniors, Kleiter now competes at the next level with Team Nancy Martin, including September’s PointsBet Invitational and the Tier 2 Grand Slam of Curling event in October. With it has come the opportunity for Kleiter to learn from Martin, who has years of experience under her belt both in women’s and mixed doubles curling. It’s also given Kleiter the chance to try out a different position on the team, moving from skip to second.
“I was always skip, all of my curling career, and then this year I moved to playing second for Martin and it was obviously a little bit of a learning curve just to start because I was always used to being in control of the whole strategy and all that stuff,” she said. “So, I definitely had to adjust a little bit, but now I’m loving it because I feel like I can just go out there and not have to think hard as far as strategy goes. And I l love sweeping.”
Kleiter has been a sweeping success off the ice as well when it comes to scholarships and awards. In September, she was named one of 11 recipients of Curling Canada’s For the Love of Curling $2,500 scholarship. Shortly after, in October, she was announced as one of five recipients of Curling Canada’s Fran Todd All Heart Junior Curler Award, which provides $1,000 to the curler for curling expenses and $1,500 to their home curling rink to help with a diversity, inclusion and equity program the curler is involved with. For Kleiter, that’s the Sutherland Curling Club’s The Curling Connection.
Last year, Kleiter was also one of six junior curlers in Canada to be named a Spirit of Sandra scholar by the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, which included a $5,000 scholarship. That award also gives the recipient $10,000 to donate to the NICU of their choice, with Kleiter splitting the amount across three hospitals.
“I know people who have had issues and problems with their newborn babies and the Sandra Schmirler Foundation has always been super supportive in that regard, so that’s why I wanted to do that one.”
Overall, the ability to give back to her community and help spread her love of curling to groups and individuals across Saskatchewan and nationally was a driving factor in Kleiter’s applications for the grants and she hopes it will continue to spur growth of the sport into the future.
“I want to help all people all around Canada be able to experience curling,” she said. “There’s so much that curling has to offer and I hope that by me applying for these scholarships and getting them, well now I can give back and get more people involved.”