The 100 Mile House Curling Club will forever remain Hannah Lindner’s home curling rink.
It was there that Lindner, 20, first discovered her love for the sport thanks to youth league coaches Maxine and Bill Todhunter and Hollis and Ed Ney. That’s why after her team, made up of players from across the province, won gold at the 2019 BC U18 Girls’ Curling provincials she chose to donate her banner to the club.
“It all started here,” Lindner said. “It’s very important to me that this banner is here because this rink holds a very special place in my heart and these people do as well. This is definitely my home club and I’d love this banner to hang here.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed Lindner from coming down to 100 Mile House by almost two years, last week she and her family returned to her old stomping grounds to reunite with her childhood coaches. After sharing some hugs and posing for a photo op, they talked of the old days and Lindner’s first foray onto the rink 12 years ago.
Lindner, who was born in 100 Mile, said at the time her mother had a rule that her children needed to have a summer and a winter sport to participate in. The family ended up choosing curling because Lindner remembers being quite adamant about refusing to wake up early for hockey practice.
“I had a bit of a rocky start. I couldn’t get over the fact I kept falling on the ice, that was a little tricky,” Lindner said.
Maxine fondly recalled Lindner first took to the ice in a pair of pink sneakers she kept on slipping on. A few months after she started, however, Maxine said the club invested in equipment for the youngsters including shoe grips, and that was when Lindner’s love of curling really began to bloom.
“It was fun. She was very easy to coach and very determined,” Maxine said. “She had fun but was also very serious about it. I enjoyed every minute of coaching her and the other juniors.”
Bill said that Lindner wouldn’t just curl at the rink but would also go home after practice to watch curling on TV. Having a young person show that much interest in the game was unique and incredibly rewarding for him to see. Watching her donate the banner filled all the coaches with pride, he added.
“The buttons get stretched very good. We’re very proud of her and she’s such a lovely young lady,” Bill said. “I wish her all the luck in the world.”
Bill said some of his fondest memories of coaching Lindner came from games in Salmon Arm when she chose him to come out and help her during games. At the time Lindner was around nine and he loved seeing her compete against children her age while he gave her advice.
“I think a coach makes all the difference, especially when they push you to be better and make the game so enjoyable. These four here just totally embodied how I see the sport and I was taught such a positive outlook on the game by all of them,” Lindner said.
In 2015, Lindner and her parents moved away from 100 Mile House up to Fort St. John where she continued to curl, eventually meeting and joining a team from Prince George who took her to the U18 provincials. With the competitive spirit truly ignited in her Lindner continued to go back to provincials year after year.
“Curling is such a unique sport,” Lindner said. “I love the strategy to it. You can just get lost in it on the ice, especially on the competitive level. You’re all in, reading the pass, reading the lines and constantly communicating between the team.”
Winning provincials was a great experience for her, as Lindner said she’d made it to finals twice before and lost. That same year her team went on to compete in the nationals in Sherwood Park, Alta. where they won bronze.
“Nationals especially is really special because when you’re out there as Team BC it’s like you’re playing for your whole province,” Lindner said. “To win a bronze medal for the province is something you’ll never forget especially when you come from a little town like 100 Mile House.”
Lindner is currently studying criminology at Simon Fraser University and said after she ages out of juniors she plans to focus on completing her degree. Her team is scheduled next to compete in junior provincials later this month with the hopes of going on to nationals afterwards.
“I won’t hop right into Ladies Curling but I’ll never not curl. It would be very hard to cut this out of my life.”
The Todhunters, meanwhile, said they’ll continue to follow their old pupil’s career from 100 Mile House and are convinced one day they’ll see her curling on TV for one of the big teams. In the meantime, Bill hopes that seeing this banner up in the rink will encourage the next generation of young curlers to reach for the same goals as Lindner.
“I know our junior program doesn’t have many children in it this year but it will be super for them to see the banner and we can tell them she was a junior here,” he said.