Classes for junior curlers in 100 Mile House

Richard Minato shows how it’s done during a learn-to-curl lesson. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Richard Minato shows how it’s done during a learn-to-curl lesson. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Richard Minato throws a rock during the Mens League at the 100 Mile House Curling Club. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Richard Minato throws a rock during the Mens League at the 100 Mile House Curling Club. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

When Richard Minato started curling in 1973, he didn’t receive any real training.

Instead, it was just assumed Minato, like his father Dick and older sister Shelley, knew how to curl. Over the last few decades, Minato has become an accomplished curler and the 100 Mile Curling Club’s main instructor, giving newcomers and children the guidance he never received.

“Curling is not a hereditary skill, so it was like ‘this is it and away you go.’ It wasn’t anywhere as in-depth as the instruction we provide now,” Minato said. “A lot of existing curlers now come to me for pointers on their game. I’m good at picking apart people’s deliveries and correcting them.”

The junior curlers program is open to students from the ages of eight to 21. Minato said typically the program is made up of a mix of elementary school children and high schoolers.

“Last year, we only had seven kids so it was kind of tough. I’ve only been teaching the juniors for the last year but I did do it briefly before 2009 for a couple of years. Back then there were 24 kids,” Minato said. “I’m hoping that this year with the relaxation of COVID restrictions we’ll be getting a lot more kids.”

Regardless of their age, Minato said he begins by teaching the basics of curling including rink etiquette, how to keep your balance on the ice and how to safely deliver a rock without hurting yourself. As they improve, he said he begins to have them play games against one another. Minato will watch them play and offer advice on how to succeed as they do.

While he is hopeful more students will come out this year, he cautions parents to make sure their children have a genuine interest in the sport. Those who don’t, Minato said, tend to struggle to learn anything.

Minato received training from Curl BC several years ago when the club ran an instructor’s course in town. He took a club instructor course and later a competitive coaching course, giving him the tools he needed to teach.

“The Curl BC instructors basically told me I’d be a good teacher for it because I guess I have the right demeanour and you have to be able to demonstrate Curl BC’s guidelines for curling, which I can do,” Minato said. “It’s not the way I actually deliver a rock when I curl, but I am able to follow their guidelines.”

When it comes to teaching, Minato said he loves watching curlers improve with a little bit of guidance from him. He said he always tries to challenge his students so they come up with their own solutions to a difficult shot. When that happens he said they learn better than they would have if he’d simply shown them.

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“As far as any type of winter type sport, curling is the most reasonable to put a child in. At the beginning it requires no equipment, the club provides that, and if they do choose to get equipment beginners packages, shoes and brooms, cost a little over $150,” Minato said. “The shoes that I use cost $300, my broom costs $190 but in all the time I’ve been curling, almost 50 years, I’m only on my third set of curling shoes.”

The regular curling season begins Tuesday, Oct. 11, Minato said, with junior curling beginning the following Tuesday, Oct. 18. Minato said the lessons run every Tuesday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. until the end of the season in March.



patrick.davies@100milefreepress.net

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