Jim Mitchell, originally from Kitimat, is a mainstay at the 100 Mile House Curling Club and is currently one of the club coaches.
“I started hanging around the curling rink when I was about eight. I was a rink rat,” he said, adding the Kitimat curling rink was maintained by a group of volunteers. “Kitimat, in the early days, there was nothing there. My dad was part of the group that built and looked after the rink and I started hanging out and pushing rocks around as soon as the rink was open, basically – as soon as they had ice.”
Mitchell was only 10 years old when he started travelling across the region for bonspiels, billeting and taking trains to Terrace or Prince Rupert and so on.
“I’ve been playing this game forever,” he said.
The challenge is his favourite part of the game, or rather the “skill set required to make that rock do what you want it to 150 feet away.”
“That’s quite a trick.”
Mitchell worked in construction most of his life, which required him to move from small town to small town. Everywhere he went he took his brush and his curling shoes. If it was winter and there was a rink he would be there. Mitchell said it’s easy to pick up a game as a spare, and due to the game’s social aspect, it’s quite easy to meet new people.
Mitchell moved to the South Cariboo in the winter of 1985 and was almost immediately a member at the club.
He is also one of the six coaches, where he has taken on the junior curlers. He coaches anyone from 10 to 18 as well as anybody who wants to practice or get some pointers, or even learn the game again, during Monday’s drop-in sessions.
“Coaching is very rewarding with the kids and even with the adults, but the kids especially. You get them and they may never have stepped on a sheet of ice and within an hour they are throwing the rocks. They pick it up so quick. Then you watch the ones that are more skilful, more athletic, they just get it so quick within two or three sessions. Within a year they are competitive and that’s very rewarding.”
He was approached to become a coach by the club, despite not being at the club full-time due to his career in construction. But he took up the role as a coach when he more or less decided to come back to town full-time and was approached to coach a team of young girls who wanted to become competitive in 2013. The team managed to win the Ladies Bonspiel tournament that year when they were around 13 or 14.
“That team was kind of torn apart a little bit because our best player was poached by Prince Rupert if you could believe it or not… That aside, the three girls who were with here are all very, very talented.”
Mitchell said he will continue to push rocks until he drops dead and will be part of the 100 Mile House Curling Club’s Men’s Bonspiel this month. He hopes to get his hands on the prize money.