Janique LeBlanc is taking a break from the sport she loves to focus on her education. (Healey file photo)

FALL RIVER: Janique LeBlanc has had to make one of the toughest decisions of her young adult life.

The Fall River native, one of the four young women who put the province on the junior women’s curling map when they represented Nova Scotia as Team Canada and captured the world title, informed her fellow teammates with Team Clarke that she would be taking a hiatus from competitive curling to focus on schooling. LeBlanc, 19 is studying nursing—entering her second year—at the Universite de Moncton.

“I personally believe that being a student athlete has a lot of perks and has kept me organized in my day-to-day life,” said LeBlanc on March 18. “Curling was always a suitable therapy for me when school became tough and kept me active even throughout my stress-filled weeks.”

LeBlanc said she and Karlee Burgess are “joined at the hip.”

“Knowing that I would not be curling with her in the new season – my coach Andrew (Atherton) as well, made this decision beyond difficult,” she said. “I had planned to have a few discussions with professors and my close family and friends to discuss my options for next year. After chatting with my nursing profs this year, I learned that second year nursing is twice the work and clinical.”

She only made the decision a few weeks ago, after coming back from the recently held Canadian championships. She did not want the team to be distracted by anything outside of the task at hand so she didn’t make any decision until afterwards.

“While at the Canadian Juniors, I was still completely undecided about next season and set that thought aside until we were back,” said LeBlanc, who won a mixed curling title in N.B. on March 19. “I cherished the Canadian Juniors as much as possible regardless.”

While she may not be playing with the team on the ice, she plans to stay involved and support the new Team Jones—made up of Karlee Burgess; Lindsey Burgess; Kaitlyn Jones; and Kristin Clarke.

“I will take care of a few simple things here and there to make their student athlete life as easy as possible such as designing jackets, handling all social media and of course, cheering,” she said with a smile.

LeBlanc isn’t sure how long her hiatus from the sport she loves so much will be.

“For now, I will be focusing on one year at a time and I will see where it takes me. If things aren’t quite right, I will adjust,” she said. “Regardless of what happens in the next few years, I will continue to admire the sport and will be back at it as soon as possible.”