Uttara Deshpande – a true Canadian!
I have been watching curling on TV for the last 10 years ever since my husband took up the sport after his retirement.
I remember his first day when he came home with a bruise on his forehead. This was not a great sign. My children were constantly encouraging me to join him and try curling.
Glooscap Curling Club in Kentville, Nova Scotia was starting a ‘Learn to Curl’ program. I gathered my courage and signed up. I have never been on that kind of ice in my life. I was tense and frozen, both mentally and physically. I had three layers on top plus a jacket. I should mention that I was born in India. There was no curling there and it was considerably warmer! Two young men held my arms and helped me to the ice. When they were teaching us the delivery and sliding, I could not get up from the ice. I knew then and there; this was not going to work. It was suggested that I try another way and I decided I was going to learn to curl with a stick.
After a few lessons I joined regular curling in the morning with experienced men and women and progressed quickly. It was from them I learned curling jargon such as board weight, hack weight and T line. They taught me how to read ice, strategy for the game and helped me develop my stick curling skills. I was enjoying curling so much that now I needed two men to take me off the ice!!
The following year I attended a coaching session on stick curling that was held at our club. At the end of the session the coach suggested that I should enter the provincial stick curling championship. Fortunately, the championship was going to be held in Wolfville, a few kilometres from Kentville.
One of the regular entrants, Pauline Bullerwell, from Yarmouth [300 km away] was looking for a partner. To my surprise she picked me. I had never played in any tournament and was not familiar with the stick curling rules. I came to know that Pauline is an experienced curler. I finally met her an hour before our first game. Once I got over both my early jitters as well as discovering that there were spectators, I delivered exactly what my partner was asking. To everyone’s surprise we won all our games and became the 2018 Nova Scotia Stick Curling Women’s Champions. My greatest pleasure was that my two-year-old granddaughter was cheering her grandmother from the stands.
Winning the Nova Scotia championship led us to the 2018 Maritime Championship. By this time, I was hooked on curling and practising almost every day. I was filled with confidence and looking forward to competing in the 2019 Canadian Women’s Stick Curling Championship in Cornwall PEI.
In January 2019 I found out that I would not be able to play with Pauline as her former partner had returned to curling. Luckily a member from our club, Sandra Walker, accepted my request to join me for the national championship. Sandi is also an experienced curler. Learning from the club members how to read ice, in-turns and out-turns, when to ask for a guard and to watch for the strength and weakness of the opponent, helped me. We became the 2019 Canadian Women’s Curling Champions!
In my late 60s and a short period of four years, I became provincial champion, maritime champion and national champion. I intend to use my success to encourage other Asian ladies and new immigrants to take up curling.
It was 20 years ago that I got my Canadian citizenship, but it was in 2019 that I became True Canadian.
Glooscap Curling Club, Kentville, NS