The 100 Mile House Curling Club’s junior curlers are back on the ice.
Club president Gordon Smith said despite not having any junior curlers last year due to COVID-19, he, his wife Karen and local curler Richard Minato are mentoring seven young curlers aged eight to 13. They’re also actively recruiting from the community and last week taught the basics to two classes from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School.
“We are seeing more younger people coming out and we’re trying to encourage events like this where the schools come and we build a base of future curlers, whether they end up curling here or somewhere else,” Smith said. “I enjoy working with younger people and seeing them learn a new skill. I take a great deal of pleasure when someone tries something and then achieves it.”
The biggest hurdle facing new curlers is learning how to keep their balance on the ice, especially when throwing rocks, Smith said. However, it was no issue last week for members of PSO’s physical education hockey class, who quickly picked up the game.
Grade 11 student Mason Pincott was one of the loudest players on the ice whooping with delight whenever his team successfully threw a rock into the house. Pincott’s team won 2-0.
“We’re just absolutely dusting kids out here. Our team was obviously the best and we might come back and get better before Christmas break and we’ll be better each time we get out here,” Pincott said. “I haven’t really tried curling before but I’m kind of just the best now.”
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Pincott said he and his friends had a good time learning to curl, noting he particularly enjoyed the friendly competition aspect of the sport and “grinding the gears on the boys a little bit.” He wouldn’t even mind starting his own team for fun or having a school-wide intramural style curling league.
“It would get more people out from our grade and school to try curling with a little tournament,” Pincott said.
Cassidy Wall, 14, would welcome some new faces at the junior league, which meets every Tuesday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and accepts new players throughout the season. Although her league only has enough members to form two teams, Wall said it’s great to be back on the ice.
“I find it to be a fun game. Something I like to call it is ‘darts on ice’ because that’s pretty much what it is,” said Wall, who has been curling for three years. “It’s also kind of like a puzzle, there’s a lot to think about (strategy-wise.)”
Meanwhile, despite having to cancel last year’s season early, Smith said the overall club numbers are at about 94 curlers across all leagues. He said the fact they have been able to maintain their base and attract new curlers, especially younger players, is encouraging.
Anyone interested in giving curling a try can come to the club’s Monday night drop-in league at 6:30 p.m. Participants on the ice must be fully vaccinated and wear masks while in the change room but are welcome to remove their masks on the ice.