The English are coming!

Last year, I convened our curling club’s first Adult Learn to Curl programme. We had a very successful session, so decided to follow up with a a rookie league for our new curlers and then finish off with a Rookie Bonspiel.

We advertised to other clubs in our area, put a flyer on the OCA website, then waited to see who responded. To our surprise, our little club ended up having an International Bonspiel. In addition to a good contingent of home curlers and a couple of teams from nearby clubs, I received a call from a fellow from England who wondered if he and three of his colleagues could come to our spiel and give Curling a try.

The four of them travel all over the world for business and like to try some local activity wherever they go. For example, last year they went to the camel races in Dubai. They thought hockey was a bit of a long shot, but curling might be fun. They saw our ad on the OCA website, so gave me a call. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical that they would actually show up, but out to Brighton (Ont.) they came!

They had never set foot on ice, and knew nothing about the game. We got them set up with brooms, grippers and sliders and one of our ALTC instructors gave them a crash course in curling in the half hour before the first game, and took them under her wing for the day.

They were four of the nicest, most personable guys that I have ever met, and they totally embraced the game and the event. They lost their first game, though all things considered, made quite a reasonable showing. They really held their own in their second game, and in the last end, their skip had to make a draw to the 4 foot to score two points for the win.

The whole Bonspiel was out on the ice to cheer him on. When he made his shot and won, well, you would have thought they had just won the Olympic gold medal! They didn’t win the bonspiel, but they didn’t come last and we all had a great day because of them. They came as strangers, but they left as friends, with promises that we would get together again. Curling is like that-it brings people together, and that’s why I love it!

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Lakeshore Bonspiel in Montréal!

Today we are in day 3 of our annual Lakeshore Bonspiel (www.lakeshorebonspiel.ca) that involves 6 Montreal area curling clubs and has been running since 1958.

This year’s tournament has 95 teams and about 500 people overall involved in the event.

The participants represent the complete cross section of the society. We have men and women young and old, rookies and veterans and even some celebrities (Andrew Carter from CJAD 800 AM radio station has a team still in the “A”division).

We already have a bunch of photos available on our website and more are being uploaded.

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Halifax Curling Club, rising from the rubble – literally!

The Halifax Curling Club (HCC) is the oldest continuously operating curling club in North America, founded in 1824. That record was put to the test not once but twice, and my story will describe how this happened and the importance of curling volunteers and their generosity in times of need.

Imagine if I wrote to you today asking to give money to your club to keep the doors open….in October 1998, this happened to HCC. The only way the club could find a way to survive was to ask just over 40 members to contribute money in the form of repayable bonds. Substantial contributions were made, ranging from $1,000 to $15,000, and totalling over $120,000 in all (not pocket change!). Donors were issued bonds with a repayment schedule that was uncertain due to the financial picture of the club. The good news is that the club was able to keep the doors open and continue to offer curling in the south end of Halifax because of these generous donors.

Turn the clock forward to Feb.15, 2015. Following a major snow storm, then rain and flash freezing, the roof of the club collapsed, leaving almost 300 members without a home to curl in. The board reached out to the other clubs in the area (4) to request ice time that HCC could rent in order to continue the league play for the duration of the season and were fortunate to receive support. Meanwhile, a building committee was formed to face the daunting task of rebuilding the facility in under one year. With the talents of our members and a local contractor, and countless hours of sweat equity, this feat was accomplished and the “new and improved” HCC facility re-opened in February 2016.

They say adversity builds resilience and from the threat of closure and the devastating roof collapse, the club is now stronger than ever. Membership is at an all time high, our Learning and Development programs are full and our community outreach programs are thriving. In November 2018, the club joined the WCT with an event called the Stu Sells 1824 Halifax Classic, and we will continue to run this as the premier men’s event in Atlantic Canada.

Last summer, the club introduced pickle ball as an off-season sport with great success and will likely host a Provincial championship event this year. We ran a “Rocks and Rings” program at our local elementary schools and tripled our Junior registration as a result. We even started teaching blind and hearing impaired children how to curl, and have plans to make our facility accessible for all abilities!

Realizing we are still not in a sound financial position, our board agreed in January that it was time to recognize the bondholders and share this story with our membership. We need to learn from the situations of the past, and to remind ourselves to continue on the path of financial sustainability, and never end up depending on members like we did in 1998.

So on this special day, February 22, we will be acknowledging the generosity of those bondholders who have agreed to forgive their loan to the club by honouring them in a formal evening of music, food, curling and of course, some laughs. This is what makes curling special…people who care enough to put others ahead of themselves for the better good!

Happy Curling Day in Canada!!!

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Engineers Curling League

Engineers Curling League at Vancouver CC, now in our 61st season. Photo of games and coffee afterwards at the 2010 Olympic Games Legacy Curling Facility. Check us out on Face Book at https://www.facebook.com/Professional-Engineers-Curling-League-1952820028179031/

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Putting ice in the lives of our town

The Legal Curling Club has been putting ice in the lives of our town since 1952.

The Legal Curling Club promotes community spirit in our small rural town in Alberta. With a population of roughly 1350 people, it encourages new friendships through on-ice competition and off-ice social events.

We hold 5 bonspiels every season and our 2 most popular are the Merchant’s Bonspiel and the Spring ‘Spiel.

The Legal Curling Club is committed to teaching, developing, promoting and encouraging the spirit of curling. We welcome curlers of all ages. Come out, learn, stay, and play!

On February 22, 2020 we are offering a one-day Open Doubles Bonspiel with 12 teams registered thus far.

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Flashing green lights!

Back a few years, I found myself the proud owner of a ball cap with 4 green lights on the visor. I used to wear that hat to our local curling club, the West Northumberland Curling Club in Cobourg, Ontario.

One day we were discussing the upcoming game in the change room and I came up with a great idea. Bert, who was a long time skip, was one of the characters at the club that was always joking and kibitzing with others at the club.

With a few other standing around the lockers, I said to Bert. “Bert, I’ve got an idea. I have this hat with these 4 green lights on the visor.” Showing him the lights and how they worked I said to Bert “When you give me the shot you want me to make, how about I flash these green lights if I agree with your call.” He was speechless but only for a few seconds. Everyone realized I was kidding although I’m not sure Bert was until everyone standing around the lockers broke out laughing.

I beat Bert at his own game that day. A few years ago Bert moved to another town and another curling club. We all miss Bert but wish him well. I’m glad to have known him.

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Winespiel!

The Bala Curling Club has been hosting an annual Winespiel on the 2nd weekend of February for almost 50 years.

It attracts club curlers and out of town curlers alike for the two day event. After 2 days of curling, the event culminates in a wonderful dinner with prizes. Each curler gets to take home a specially labelled bottle of wine as a souvenir.

Our Winespiel hasn’t been coinciding with Curling Day in Canada in the past. So this year we moved our Winespiel so that the 2nd and final day happens on Curling Day in Canada. We have a special celebration planned for this year’s event including 2 learn to curl sessions.

I have been entering this bonspiel for 7 years, and I was lucky enough to be on the winning team once. Let’s curl!

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What makes our club special?

What makes our club special? Our club is special that it typifies so much of what makes curling special.

We have an active junior program. We have an active learn to curl that brings in new members. We have several groups of multigenerational family members. We support charity. We are a warm place to hang out with good people on a cold night.

We are a small club that through active volunteerism and a sense of family and tradition, has created a safe place for people to come together and maintain a sense of fellowship.

This has been a commitment the club made since our founding and in a world where the sense of isolation is increasing, this is more important than ever.

 

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Kim McDonald-Wilkes

I am writing to nominate the Special Olympics NL Exploits Hurricanes Competitive Curling Team. This curling team has been together only a short 4 years and during that time that have accomplished so much! At the 2019 Special Olympics NL Winter Games they won Gold in the Competitive division. Securing their place on the Provincial Team heading to the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay, Ontario on Feb 23rd, 2020. In 2018 they received Gold in the Competitive division at the Special Olympics NL Provincial Championships and again in 2017, a Gold medal at the same competition.

In 2019 the clubs home town of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador recognized this teams accomplishments and awarded them the 2018 Team of the Year for the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor at the Town’s annual Civic Awards. In 2019 Special Olympics NL awarded them with Team of the Year for the Province and then again in 2019 Special Olympics Canada awarded them Team of the Year for the entire country!!

This team has a diverse array of athletes, with both female and male competitors with ages ranging from 19 up to 63 years of age. The team is more like a family. Their dedication to not just the sport of Curling but to the Special Olympics movement is amazing. Team member Joshua Gardner was also recipient of Male Athlete of the year for Special Olympics NL and has given many speeches about Special Olympics and the impact it has had on him. Joshua is also involved at his local Curling Club, Exploits Regional Curling Club and enjoys assisting with making and maintaining the ice. Team member Margaret MacNeil just recently took part in Athlete Leadership Training and co-emceed’s the 2019 Special Olympics NL Provincial Winter Games. Team members Kim O’Neill and Gary Wicks being the two most seasoned athletes on the team have been in Special Olympics for over 20 years. Tony Kyritsis will be making his 6th appearance on the National Stage, previously he competed at National Games in Snow Shoeing.

This team has grown tremendously on and off the ice over the past 4 years. They have learned to both win and loss with grace. They encourage other athletes in their respective sport to do their best and work hard to accomplish goals. Within the community of Grand Falls-Windsor each team member is well known and respected. They are each involved in a number of activities outside of Special Olympics.

One team member is currently enrolled at the College of the North Atlantic working on a diploma in Community Studies. Two other teammates hold down full time jobs and the remaining two teammates are enjoying the retired life but still remain active and volunteer in the community whenever the chance is given.

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