Stories

MRU lawyer "skips" class to place one on the button

Amy Nixon - MRU lawyer and curler 1
Team Alberta third, Amy Nixon at the 2016 World Curling Championships ~ Photo by Andrew Klaver, Curling Canada

Canadian Women's curling champ represents Mount Royal in the boardroom and Canada on the iceAmy Nixon, the curler, cares very little about the outside world and invests her emotions towards her teammates and their mission.

Amy Nixon, the lawyer, cares very much about relationship-building, understanding what people need, and figuring out how to get them there.

"The curler is trying to win," says Nixon with a smile. "The lawyer is trying to help."

The 38-year-old Calgary native is a lawyer by trade and hones her craft as a member of Mount Royal University's Legal Services. As an accomplished curler, she brought home a bronze medal for Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, and has made five appearances at the Canadian Championships, resulting in two trips to the world championships.

Recently, she captured her second Scotties Tournament of Hearts (February) win, which was an unexpected gift for Nixon who, prior to this season, had planned to call it a career.

Amy Nixon - MRU lawyer and curler 3
Amy Nixon and her daughter following bronze medal game at 2016 World Curling Championships ~ Photo by Andrew Klaver, Curling Canada

"I was ready to focus on family and work because of where I am personally versus 11 years ago is very different," explains Nixon, who has been a competitive curler since the age of 14. "I made a decision earlier this year to step away, and was going to focus on my professional and family life."

The third for the reigning Alberta and Canadian women championships insists it's difficult for people to understand if they haven't competed in a sport at an elite level but she feels she knew the time to put away her broom and sweep her last end was near.

So, understanding that the 2016 Scotties could be her last, she braced herself for the mixed emotions that would follow her final outing in front of her teammates, family, friends and fans.

But when things began clicking during the championship week at Grande Prairie earlier this year, it became clear that Nixon and her team - led by skip Chelsea Carey - could have a shot at winning the prestigious tournament.

At that point, the competitive athlete inside of her took over.

"I had a few moments of personal reflection and challenges around fully emotionally committing to winning," says Nixon. "Once we got into the playoffs, I'm not the kind of person to not give it my all."

And that's exactly what happened.

Facing tough competition against Krista McCarville's Northern Ontario rink, the Scotties' championship final came down to the final rock. A perfect shot by Chelsea Carey allowed the Calgary-based Alberta rink of Nixon, second Jocelyn Peterman, lead Laine Peters, and alternate Susan O'Connor to win 7-6.

"I had a bit of a break down an hour after we won, going: 'Oh gosh, what have we won? What does this mean for my life?'" says Nixon. "It's a huge mind shift for me and for my family.

"Winning the Scotties was a gift … I just decided that I was really going to enjoy the moment and appreciate my teammates and the fans."

Amy Nixon - MRU lawyer and curler 2
Amy Nixon representing Canada at the 2016 World Curling Championships ~ Photo by Andrew Klaver, Curling Canada

Nixon and Team Alberta would go on to lose the bronze medal game at the 2016 Ford World Women's Championship. But with the Scotties victory, they also qualified for the 2017 World Financial Group Continental Cup in Las Vegas, NV. as well as the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in St. Catharines, Ont.

Nixon says she needs to contemplate her next move on the ice before committing.

"I think very much I would regret not playing," she says. "But I need to put the puzzle together with how I am going to play."

When she's not sweeping pebbled ice, Nixon is very much still committed to providing legal counsel on campus.

Nixon and her legal team-mates have a wide range of diverse projects and tasks but the majority of her day-to-day work is related to compliance reporting to the Board of Governors, policy development and providing legal advice and discussion. She also dabbles in contracts and agreements.

But through both sides of her decorated career, there have been many unexpected gifts that have given her a deep appreciation for her journey in both worlds.

"The lessons I have learned as a competitive athlete translate directly to who I am as a lawyer," she says. "Things like accountability, responsibility for mistakes, goal setting and direct communication… I really appreciate that both about my role as a lawyer and teammate. The balance of personalities is like a chess game."

Nixon says the public sides of her personality are only small pieces of who she is.

At this point in her life, her family - above all - is her main focus which is why Mount Royal is such a good fit for her.

"I started here because the University allowed me the kind of flexibility and work experience I needed to move forward," says Nixon. "I think the positive side is, while my daughter, husband and work take precedent over what happens on a sheet of curling ice, I have been given the gift working at Mount Royal to continue to enjoy and pursue a high level of competition.

"I'm very grateful."

April 5, 2016 — Jonathan Anderson