The Sparwood Curling Club in the beautiful Rocky Mountains

The Sparwood Curling Club is located in the heart of Sparwood adjacent to the Elk River in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

This club originated after the old Michel Natal Curling Club was shut down and residents of the old coal mining communities of Michel and Natal were relocated to the new town of Sparwood.

The Sparwood Curling Club is part of a large recreational complex built in 1978 by the District of Sparwood. The Sparwood Curling Club leases the facility from the District of Sparwood for 5 months out of the year.

The club has always been a volunteer base organization and its spirit comes from the hard working people associated with the coal mining which has been going on in the Elk Valley for the past 100+ years. Just as coal mining in the Elk Valley has suffered many boom and bust cycles over the years, so has the curling club. None were more devastating than the collapse of the coal mining industry in 1992 when Westar Mining went bankrupt throwing ~1,500 local residents out of work. The Sparwood Curling Club did not operate that season.

In 1993, a small group of approximately 40 residents resurrected the club and the leagues even though there was substantial debt owed to the District of Sparwood (~$20,000.00). Over the course of the next 27 years the club flourished. Hard work was the theme and a core group of dedicated volunteers brought the Club back to life and repaid the debt to the District. This was accomplished through club volunteers bartending extra community functions during the curling season and the off season, as well as numerous other fundraising activities.

What makes the Sparwood Curling Club so special is the welcoming spirit and friendly people participating in the mens, ladies, mixed and Junior leagues. Multigenerational participation in the club is common with parents playing with kids and grandkids, a truly family fun activity and memorable experience.

The club has a lounge and bar which is affectionately called Mum’s Pub in recognition of the long serving volunteer bartender, Irene Endicott who has served 18 years. At 89 years old she still happily serves drinks to patrons who all call her “mom”. Her great smile and welcoming demeanor is always a hit for new members coming into the club.

In 2017 the community of Fernie, 20 miles to the west of Sparwood, suffered a tragic incident at their recreational complex. As a result, the Fernie Curling Club was shut down for 2 years. The Sparwood Curling Club was approached to host the Fernie Seniors Curling Group and the Fernie Super League to give them a place to play. The Sparwood Curling Club welcomed the groups with open arms and gave true meaning to Curl Canada’s slogan: “ Our house is your house”. The ice maintenance volunteers took on the extra work and prepared the ice two to three extra times a week for the Fernie groups. The club volunteers put in more effort to help purchase a new ice scraper to decrease the volunteer hours needed to provide the great keen ice for all participants.

As the Sparwood Curling club had never operated a Senior Curling League in the afternoon it presented an opportunity for some Sparwood Senior curlers to join the Fernie group during this time frame. Great fun was had by all and bonds formed during this time frame were strong. With Fernie returning to their home club for the 2019/20 season some Sparwood Seniors have continued to travel to Fernie to enjoy the afternoon curling and socializing opportunity.

The Sparwood Curling Club would be thrilled to welcome the Tankard and demonstrate why we think we have the most welcoming and fun club in the country.

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Niagara Falls, both sides of the border!!

Unique? Oh we are unique that is for sure. What other club can state its membership includes a 5 time Women’s national champion, and yet has never won a Scotties? Did I forget to mention 1/10 of our club members are willing to cross international borders just to join our fun including 5 time US national Women’s Champion Patti Lank?

Sure we have a number of bonspiels (The Honeymoon, The Festival of Lights, etc.) and participate in friendly bonspiels that cross that border again (with Buffalo and Rochester). We have a vibrant Recreational League that has a number of theme nights including ‘Reindeer Games’, ‘Soup-er bowl’ night and a ‘Chili night’. 87 year old Pearl Maves is a 30 year member, and we have a 50 year member, Donna Walters! As well as competitive and semi-competitive leagues, our youth curling program is a growing and vibrant part of our club and is pleased to see 8 year old Evelyn Fish competing at the Brier this year!

When the time comes to celebrate our game, what is more Canadiana than combining curling and Niagara Falls. On February 22nd we will be taking street curling to Niagara Falls where members of our club will join visitors to our city and visitors to our country when the ‘Roaring Game’ meets the ‘Roar of the Falls’!

We will be setting up our curling experience right in front of the falls for a day full of fun and celebration! Not only will we have constant pebbling from the mist me might be able to coax out a rainbow! We will also introduce curling to visitors who are coming to see the falls and will be able to add curling to their day. How’s that for a unique Canadian experience!

***see attached photo for location of Curling at the Falls!

When we discussed submitting our story, we were met with any number of people who were more than willing to tell ‘their story’. Please find attached a small sampling of the wonderful stories that make up our club.

The Coull family has 3 generations of curlers that curl together. Lynne is a former Senior Women’s Canadian Champion, who has the opportunity to play with her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in our mixed doubles league.

A Sport for the Whole Family (Lynn Coull)

One of the great features of the wonderful sport of curling is that it cuts across many demographics, age, skill, and gender.

As a player for over 40 years, I was able to play in the Friday Night Mixed Doubles league with my son, daughter-in-law or granddaughter as my partner. My son can also play with his wife or daughter. We have a great mix and match available to us.

I am also going to enter a team in the Boys and Girls Club fundraising Bonspiel with my granddaughter and other friends. I will play skip and she will vice. We might even mix that up. Curling is a good sport that combines fun, fellowship and skill.

Patti Lank is 5 time US national Women’s Champion and US Senior Women’s Champion. She is also a former World Silver Medalist.

As a New York resident and a curler who has represented the United States I can’t tell you how privileged I feel to be able to practice and play at the Niagara Falls Curling Club. The ice staff has always gone above and beyond when my team has needed practice and ice time before a big event. The members are like family always following our teams endeavors and cheering us on even though we represent another country. I love being a part of Niagara Falls curling club! – Patti Lank

Sean Ford is long time member and coach at the curling club who clearly has had his life impacted by being a member of the Niagara Falls Curling Club. A Legacy of Success: Youth Curling At Niagara Falls Curling Club

In recent weeks I have had a chance to reflect on our curling club and its influence on not only my life, but those of my children and family members. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into a little over 10 years ago, when we brought our kids out to the club for Little Rocks.

The program was being run at the time by Mike and Paula Mann, longtime members at NFCC who had kids of their own in the program and had volunteered to run the program for years. The girls took to it right away, I’m sure in large part to the welcoming environment that Mike & Paula created on Sunday mornings.

As the skills started to develop, a competitive spark grew in the kids. Maybe a bonspiel outside the club to test ourselves…have a little fun..the hook was set. The girls were encouraged to to get out and experience the competitive side of curling from members and coaches alike. It was wonderful to see them out there on the ice enjoying the game. What made it even better was that my girls, Katie and Megan, were a team with their cousins; Mackenzie and Cassie, so it was great family bonding time.

About this time we hooked a gifted coach at the club (Murray Etherington) into having a look at them. He was busy with his Brock University teams but thought he could spare a few hours to work with them. Work with them he did, but what we hadn’t realized was that he was working on us as well. It started with little jobs; look at something, time some rocks, give me a hand on the ice. It wasn’t long before that turned into, “maybe you could take the coaching course that I’m delivering this week in Grimsby?”.

Curling had hooked our family curling team, and Murray had hooked me into coaching…all in a very subtle slow way. I must confess that I liked it, and I enjoyed spending time with my girls and their cousins. Curling events were excuses to pack the board games and card games (Dutch Blitz). We found time to have fun and get the curling job done at the same time, often playing the games in a common area of the hotel and invite other teams to join in, many of those teams, coaches, parents and players are fast friends to this day.

The girls found success on the ice through hard work and practice not only at OCA events but also with the high school. A.N.Myer has always had a curling program and some great teachers/coaches to support it. Back when I attended A.N. Myer, it was Dennis O’Connor and today it has continued with Patty Rodgers and newly retired Gwyn Jackson. They were always encouraged and supported by the community of the Niagara Falls Curling Club, with senior members often inquiring about tournaments and other happenings with the team.

Trips to Provincials often came with donations from the different sections of the clubs to the team to help offset expenses (without us approaching them). The leagues welcomed the team in, providing some great opportunities to test their curling skills and provided a great opportunity for the older members to see Junior curling at the club in action. All four were Ice Kids at the club; seen out on the sheets; pebbling, nipping, mopping, cleaning. The girls were popular on the spare list… I’m suspecting because they had great energy to sweep and could usually be counted on to make a shot or two.

The girls have all moved on now, with the exception of the youngest Megan to University where they continue to curl with their school teams. Murray’s last hook was to convince me to help coach at Brock University as he was looking to exit competitive coaching and drift into retirement.

Most people think curling is a one night a week.. perhaps two, from Thanksgiving to the second week in April. My experience is somewhat different as a competitive coach. It starts on the ice in August and goes to May. It is 4 nights a week with weekend events and when you’re off the ice from May to August….you’re planning, organizing workouts, and prepping.

Murray and I would joke that our wives, Kathy and Michelle, were curling widows from August through April, and as he moves into retirement, I’m sure he has a little grin on his face knowing that his experiment worked 😉

I don’t know what curling will hold for me in the future, or my girls and their cousins. Perhaps they will succumb to school/career for a few years and need to step away from the game for a while. I hope that they have found that lifelong love of the game that was started in the Niagara Falls Curling Club. Perhaps their accomplishments and banners will inspire other young curlers in the club to pursue competitive curling? Our club has seen some of its Junior members continue on to compete in: The Brier, Canadian & US Nationals Championships, Provincial Championships, Ontario Winter Games, Gore School Boy/Girl Provincial Championships, SOSSA/OFSAA, and USPORT. In March we have a young lady named Evelyn Fish who will represent NFCC at the Hit, Tap, and Draw competition in Kingston at the 2020 Brier. I can’t help but wonder what the curling future holds for her, but I know that the Community of the Niagara Falls Curling Club will be there to support and encourage her! -Sean Ford

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The Hogs & Hoppers, Holiday Spiel – North Hill CC in Calgary

Twenty years ago, our board of directors, were brainstorming on hosting a bonspiel prior to the Christmas season, raise sponsorship funds for our junior program and revitalize the participation at the club. The general manager and the Board at the time, decided to work with Big Rock Brewery to create a product promotion of Big Rock beer and incorporate it into the format of the spiel. This also was designed to raise funds for our elite junior team (Thomas Usselman, Darren Moulding, Ryan Inaba & Matt Taylor) completing at the 2000 Junior Provincial & Canadian championships.

In partnership with Big Rock Brewery, we formatted the overall event to align to two of their signature products, Warthog and Grasshopper beer. This created our spiel namesake, ‘The Hogs & Hoppers, Holiday Spiel’.

The uniqueness of this spiel is our format is similar to the Continental Cup. There are two competing sides: ‘Hogs’ vs. ‘Hoppers’ and each fielding 12 teams. Over 3 evenings a week prior to Christmas, we have a different curling format. For example, the first night, is called ‘Hey Curl Friend!’ After each end, each team moves over to another sheet for new introductions and continuing the game with current score on sheet.

The second evening’s format is, ‘Steal or Hammer’. Alternating between early draw and late, each side has an opportunity to have the hammer throughout the entire game and try to catch up to the team stealing. The catch is, the team stealing is spotted 6 points to start the game. The final night is a ‘Skins’ format. Overall, the side, Hogs or Hoppers with the most points, wins their entry fee back and bragging rights for the year.

We also incorporate free food/appetizers and a Santa gift for all participants. We were successful in creating a fun, open and family oriented event. A curling tidbit is, a 17 year old Darren Moulding was the facilitator of this event from inception and for the first 3 years.

Why are we submitting this story? This event is so successful, we normally sell-out within hours of registration opening. We feel this event epitomizes not only the social and family aspect of curling but our commitment in promoting and sustaining the future of curling.

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Family Feud – curling’s version!

We organize many events for the members of our club. Just recently we held our version of the Family Feud with all the bells and whistles. A fun evening supplemented with fine food provided by the members (Potluck style). Lots of imagination, creativity and great fun – all the elements which curling clubs across Canada provide.

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Juniors & Seniors Together on the ice!

In 2018 the Melita Curling Club was looking for a way to integrate and grow the sport of curling in our small community.

We had a small of group of Junior Curlers who were yearning to learn and we had a Senior Curling League full of members with knowledge and experience.

What happened on that Monday more than 2 years ago could not have been predicted or anticipated. Our Junior curlers joined our Senior Curling League on a below normal cold Monday afternoon in February. The outcome was laughing, smiling and a sharing of curling stories and experiences.

We took 2 Junior curlers and paired them up with 2 Senior Curlers, we had 8 teams and 4 full sheets of curling action. Since that Monday afternoon we do it 2-3 times a year! We curl then we go upstairs visit and have lunch. It is talked about at school, up town in the grocery store and in the coffee shop. Everyone is always asking when are we getting together again! This movement has been monumental in restoring interest in the sport of curling in the town of Melita!

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A Whitlock Tapestry

When you walk into a building, or meet a person for the first time, there’s a sense of “what is”. You immediately have an impression. In the case of Whitlock there’s a warmth, a comfort, a sense of welcome and belonging. The curling club is one facet of the Whitlock Golf and Country Club. Set on a scenic 400+ acres, the setting provides year-round natural beauty amongst the pines and ravine and sunsets. But it is the people of Whitlock & the tapestry of their stories which truly make the difference for each other and the community.

Here are our stories of how the people of our club make a difference:

It’s raining, it’s actually pouring…inside: Despite the idyllic setting of the club, the curling shed’s roof was in desperate need of repair. In order to prevent ice damage, sheets of plastic billowed from the ceiling, obstructing several monitors from view and challenging our players. We joked about these indoor water features, which on some days included a waterfall on the side wall that provided a calming trickling sound, as the drops plopped into a large bucket. On some nights, pails had to be set up right on the sheets to collect drips and run offs. As you can imagine, this led to very interesting ice conditions and curling techniques. Curlers were required to adjust their deliveries and sweepers often stopped to lift the pails so that the shooters’ rock could be on the broom! However, the water didn’t dampen the spirits! Concentrating on our games and the general comradery seemed to cancel out the obstacles. Our curling carried on both competitively and socially due not only to the spirit of our curlers, but because of the tireless efforts of the facilities and ice team. These volunteers kept our sheets playable and ensured the season was not lost! It is the generous giving of time and skills and pride in our club that creates a wonderful environment. We are happy to report that in 2020 there is not one piece of plastic sheeting to be seen!

A Milestone @ 90
It’s not every day that someone turns 90 and if that’s not enough to celebrate, how about the fact that this person is still curling! We have a very special member here at Whitlock; a tall, quiet man, a clever and strategic skip, a dangerous opponent on the ice. We wanted to celebrate his significant day/milestone and unbeknownst to him, the club decided to mark the occasion. Contributions were requested and curlers were invited to a surprise celebration complete with a cake of many candles, wonderful tributes and a gift of a new curling jacket with the new club colours. The turnout was tremendous, with the majority of curling members attending and there were very few dry eyes that night. We all hoped we would be able to continue curling as long and as well as this man and wasn’t it comforting that while important family members and old friends may not have been in attendance or had long passed away, the Club was not going to forget one of their own.

We Welcome You to Join Us: The Double H’s
Every club always claims to be open to new members and to be a place where new members can easily fit in…We like to think that we really do “walk this talk”. Two years ago, the Hawkesbury Curling community suffered the closure of their club. While this may not sound like much to non-curlers, but as you know, for us committed to the sport, it is akin to losing a major organ, if not worse. This group looked around at possible club replacements and decided on Whitlock. Whitlock’s membership increased and this lovely group of “up for fun”, kind individuals and excellent curlers seamlessly integrated into the Whitlock Club. The merging of Hawkesbury with Hudson has increased the level of curling at the club, expanded the talent pool and sparked new friendships. There was never a clash of cultures or egos. It goes to show, that the merging of two “H’s”, – Hudson & Hawkesbury – are stronger than one.

Our Coaches: Constructive, Caring, Capable, Crackerjacks
Our skillful advanced curlers give back to the club continuously. We are so lucky to have them! These proficient players develop and then teach clinics for both beginner and more advanced curlers. They are often on the ice providing pointers to those who are struggling or frustrated with their deliveries and take outs…They train and encourage curlers new to the competitive world of curling to participate in outside bonspiels and learn from the experiences. You can find them watching, supporting and cheering on Whitlock curlers, at any level of play, regardless of the score. They participate in the social leagues, leagues filled with inexperienced curlers, so that newer curlers can learn from them. And they themselves participate in challenging bonspiels, ambassadors of our club. All this, on their own time, never asking for any compensation other than “putting forth your best effort”. They are mentors for us, exhibiting true sportsmanship.

These are our stories, our tapestry, our curling lives. We hope these few paragraphs give you insight into the club and members which make Whitlock what it is…..very special.

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Glenn Hauptman

As President of the Kimberley Curling Club it is my honour share our story of the Kimberley Curling Club.

The History of the Kimberley Curling Club is second to none in the Province of B.C.

In 2007 Our building was condemned but through the hard work and dedication the Club was reopened and the Club is a testament with it’s growth and reputation.

We as Members of the Kimberley Curling Club are honoured to carry on the traditions and legacy of Our Club!

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Ellerslie Curling Club

Our Curling Club, the Ellerslie Curling Club, in Edmonton Alberta, hosted the 2019 Alberta Boston Pizza Cup. This was the first time in 15 years that this event was hosted in a curling club. It was an amazing event! It took over 130 volunteers and over 4200 volunteer hours, in just 10 months, to transform our club in an amazing competition facility. Our Chair put in as many volunteer hours each week as he did hours at his regular job. Our icemaker, and his assistants, worked day and night to make sure our ice was top notch. This won our amazing ice maker, Icemaker of the Year in Alberta, 2019.

Many of our volunteers braved -40 Celsius weather to help people park, and make sure we had enough room for everyone. We had teams and fans from all over Alberta, brave the cold temperatures just to come and watch their favorite teams play, and get up close to their favorite players.

Our opening ceremonies was amazing, with some of our youngest junior learn to curls, as well as some of our U12’s, U15’s & U18’s, getting the chance to parade in some amazing teams.

Overall it was a great event and a fantastic experience for our club, members, volunteers, fans and players

This is our youtube video, showing the amazing transformation of our club.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80fsL3J-6j0